Warisan: Call to outlaw evangelicalism reflects erosion of religious freedom

Jo-Anna-Henley-sabahPETALING JAYA: Parti Warisan Sabah has hit out at a suggestion that Christian evangelicalism be outlawed in Malaysia.

Its Wirawati vice chief, Jo-Anna Henley Rampas, said this showed the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government’s failure to instil proper understanding, tolerance and harmony among citizens.

She said the “distorted view” was evidence that government leaders, especially federal ministers from Sabah and Sarawak, had failed to impress Prime Minister Najib Razak on issuing clear directions on the matter.

Rampas said this in a statement today in response to a suggestion by Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Cemthra) CEO Azril Mohd Amin that Christian evangelicalism be banned in Malaysia.

Warisan’s official youth icon also said the call was reflective of the erosion of religious freedom in the country.

“We are seeing more and more people dictating their own interpretation about what is okay and what is not on matters relating to religion in the Federation of Malaysia,” she said, citing the debates on child conversion and on whether non-Muslims could use the word “Allah”.

She said while Malaysians respected Islam as the official religion of the country, Sabah and Sarawak agreed to be part of the federation on the premise that there would always be religious freedom.

Azril had said in a column published in Utusan Malaysia yesterday that the government made the right decision by directing the police to bar the “Jerusalem Jubilee” gathering organised by the All Malaysian-Golden Gate Revival Convocation evangelical group in Melaka from June 15 to 18.

He claimed that the movement had initiated a new religious outlook 20 years ago that was inclined towards liberties and openness “without limitation”. He claimed that even Christian scholars had admitted that the movement’s inclinations had brought negative impact to the growth of the church.

Azril said the government should consider introducing an anti-evangelicalism law to prevent Christian propaganda from becoming dominant.

“It is a fact that the groups that are spreading Christian propaganda to Malaysians, especially Muslims, will keep up their efforts as they believe that there is no effective law that can stop them,” he said.

Rampas said there had been no incidents since Malaysia was formed in 1963 to support Azril’s claim that evangelical or revival activities could potentially threaten peace and harmony as well as internal security in any of the states.

She said there had never been any activities such as kidnap-for-ransom, rioting, anarchism, militancy or killing of civilians.

“And everyone knows that in the Federation of Malaysia, Christian propagation among the Muslims is strictly prohibited,” she said.

She said evangelicalism was an outreach programme to bring the good news of redemptive salvation through God to not only non-Muslims but also “Christians by name”.

She said freedom to profess one’s own belief as enshrined in the constitution also included “evangelicalism” and “revival” which basically means “spreading the good news (of God)” and the “renewal of faith” respectively.

“When the Federal Constitution that we share stipulates and guarantees you are free to profess your own religious belief, does it not also mean that you are free to ‘renew your faith’ through revival activities?” she said.

She called on BN federal ministers from Sabah – Maximus Ongkili, Joseph Kurup and Wilfred Madius Tangau – to stop pleasing their “political masters” in Malaya and do “what they are supposed to do.”

Zahid orders Jerusalem Jubilee rally banned

No Zionist agenda, say organisers of Jerusalem Jubilee

Muslim NGO: It is Malays who are discriminated against