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S377A repeal: Methodist Church calls on all sides to heed Govt's call to exercise restraint, avoid 'extreme demands'

SINGAPORE — The Methodist Church has called on Methodists in Singapore to demonstrate kindness and love in the midst of ongoing discussions regarding the repeal of Section 377A. It also affirmed the Government’s call for all sides to exercise restraint and avoid extreme demands.

A service held at Faith Methodist Church in July 2021.

A service held at Faith Methodist Church in July 2021.

Singapore

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  • Singapore will be repealing Section 377A, the controversial law that criminalises sex between men
  • The Methodist Church has called on Methodists to demonstrate kindness and love during the ongoing discussions regarding the repeal
  • It also affirmed the Government’s call to exercise restraint and avoid extreme demands

SINGAPORE — The Methodist Church has called on Methodists in Singapore to demonstrate kindness and love in the midst of ongoing discussions regarding the repeal of Section 377A. It also affirmed the Government’s call for all sides to exercise restraint and avoid extreme demands.

In a statement put out on its website on Monday (Aug 22), a day after the National Day Rally, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the repeal of the controversial law that criminalises sex between men, the Methodist Church also addressed those who criticised the Church for commenting on issues of law.

“Like any citizen and local association, Christians and our Church have an equal right and responsibility to express our concerns on matters related to our country and social well-being,” its statement read. It was written by Reverend Nathanael Goh, the assistant pastor at Sengkang Methodist Church, and Reverend Daniel KS Koh, a pastor of Barker Road Methodist Church overseeing Oasis BRMC Mission in Bukit Batok.

"We do not claim to be the sole arbiters of what is good for society," they wrote. "We do not seek to be the main actor on the national stage."

They added: “We also do not deny the right of others to express their views and ideas, even when it is in opposition to what we believe."

The Church added that its comments on Section 377A are guided by the fundamental principle of serving the good of the nation, noting that there is a well-documented tradition of Christian theology that counsels the Church to direct political reasoning towards the good of the community.

“Thus, the safeguards we urge are not because we want to preserve Christian morality for its own sake, but for the sake of the well-being of society.”

The Church also expressed strong disagreement with “attempts to mischaracterise Christian beliefs as harmful discrimination”. 

“Furthermore, we are concerned that our right to share our convictions stemming from but which are definitely not exclusive to our Christian beliefs may be excluded on the grounds that they cross over into politics,” it added. 

HOW METHODISTS SHOULD RESPOND

During the ongoing discussions about the impending repeal of Section 377A, the Methodist Church called on its flock to “demonstrate a community of love to the world”, saying it is their “duty to surround all persons with the love and support needed to live faithfully before the face of God”.

It added that Methodist churches are open to everyone: "We will not abandon anyone to the vagaries of human experience and desire. Let us be unequivocally clear: Our Methodist churches are open to everyone."

Though it acknowledged that the repeal of Section 377A and the safeguarding of marriage are “vitally important” and “deserving of our attention and representations”, the Church said that it is not the highest priority for Methodists.

“The world will not end if, or when, 377A is repealed,” it said. "Expressing our concerns about 377A is one, but not the only, expression of our love for our neighbours.

"When the dust on this debate settles, may it be said of Methodists in Singapore that it was not coercion but rather the conviction of the holy love of God that illuminated our response to the repeal of 377A and that in our response, we have reflected the God whose Nature and Name is love."

STATEMENT BY BUDDHIST FEDERATION

Separately, in an amended statement on Friday, the Singapore Buddhist Federation said that it is "grateful for the proposed repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code in tandem with meaningful edification of marital and family values we hold dear as society". 

This was updated from a previous statement, uploaded on its Facebook page on Thursday, which had said in Mandarin that the federation is “relieved that the institution of marriage and family will be fortified along with the proposed repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code”. 

It also acknowledged that increasing polarity in views has been the cause of animosity and discontent dividing advocates and opponents of this matter. 

“Instead of a zero-sum game, healthy facilitation of pathways to grow genuine conversations and understanding of lived experiences is key to soothing tensions that may have built over time.” 

The Singapore Buddhist Federation also urged Singaporeans to “work closely with our government leaders, so that we can, together, look deeply into the genuine inter-generational needs of families”. 

“We support rigorous education and resolutions formed through open communications, for the holistic well-being of all.”

Click here for the latest news and reports on Section 377A.

Related topics

Section 377A Methodist religion LGBTQ law NDR 2022 National Day Rally 2022

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