Gerakan: Stop mixing religion with politics

Andy-YongKUALA LUMPUR: Religion should not be used by anyone as a platform to show their support for government or in politics, Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong said today.

Citing how some churches had organised masses and services on the morning of the Bersih 5 rally on Saturday, Yong said what was more telling was the fact that many in the congregation were supporting the protest as seen by the colour of their t-shirts.

“Many of them wore a particular colour of t-shirts to show their support in the church. A bishop, who joined the rally, also encouraged his followers to do the same, Yong said.

Though he did not name the church organisation nor the venue for the masses/services, it is believed that he was alluding to the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

A mass was held at 9am on Saturday at the St John’s Cathedral, with a large congregation meeting there before proceeding to join the Bersih 5 rally.

Last month, Bishop Bernard Paul, who heads the Catholic Church’s Malacca-Johor diocese, had also urged people to take part in the rally and “claim (Malaysia) back from destructive leaders”. His comments drew criticisms from various quarters, including politicians.

“History shows what happens when religion was mixed with government or politics. It would cause serious problems and even violence,” Yong said in a statement released today.

He added that the separation of religion and politics, or support for the government, is therefore, essential.

“Politics and religion must not mix.”

Yong also brought up the issue of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s “hudud bill” in the Dewan Rakyat.

“PAS insists that the amendments that will enable hudud law must be supported by Muslim MPs and politicians. This kind of rhetoric has no place in the country,” he said.

The Gerakan leader also stressed that the Catholic Church should not be used to “support certain political agendas”.

Yong urged the bishop to consider the consequences, saying “he risks fueling anger by others of different faiths and politics”.

Yong also criticised politicians who spoke openly declaring that his or her own religion was superior and more authentic to that of others.

“Religious liberty and pluralism was enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, and the people cherish it,” he said.