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Minister to meet church group over gay issues

Churches worried about Govt's stand on homosexuality send e-mail to Shanmugam. -ST
Tessa Wong

Mon, Jan 21, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday he will meet representatives of a group of churches concerned about the Government's stance on homosexuality.

The group, called LoveSingapore and made up of 100 churches, sent Mr Shanmugam an e-mail this week after the minister revealed early this month that he had met members of the lesbian group Sayoni.

The LoveSingapore e-mail was signed off by Mr Lawrence Khong, the pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC).

In it, he said Mr Shanmugam's November meeting with Sayoni had garnered publicity for it.

"This could be read as high-level endorsement of their agenda. We are deeply concerned," Mr Khong wrote.

He asked for a dialogue with Mr Shanmugam "to share our views and position".

Mr Khong said the churches respect the Government for its "track record of being pro-family", and referred to previous remarks made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the topic.

He said that an ongoing constitutional challenge of Section 377A of the Penal Code presented "a looming threat to this basic building block of our conservative society".

LoveSingapore is an informal network of churches. Its website lists the following pastors in its leadership team: Mr Khong and Eugene Seow of FCBC; Derek Hong and Daniel Wee of Church of Our Saviour; Rick Seaward and Chua Hock Lin of Victory Family Centre; Benny Ho of Faith Community Church in Perth; Chern Hock Chye of Renewal Christian Church; Daniel Foo of Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church; Danny Han of Joy Church; Guna Raman of Agape Baptist Church; Lawrence Chua of Living Sanctuary Brethren Church; Terry Kee of Queenstown Lutheran Church; Soh Wui Liang of Agape Christian Centre and Yang Tuck Yoong of Cornerstone Community Church.

In a Facebook post last night, Mr Shanmugam said he would meet the LoveSingapore group and others who have e-mailed him, "just like I met with the activists from Sayoni".

Apart from LoveSingapore, he did not identify the e-mail writers, saying only that they "take a different position from that of the LGBT activists".

LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Khong's e-mail to Mr Shanmugam was sent a day after he read out a statement expressing concern about homosexuality to Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, when the latter made an unplanned stop at the FCBC Touch Auditorium on Sunday during a walkabout in Marine Parade.

Last night, an FCBC spokesman told The Straits Times that when Mr Goh went on his walkabout, the church leaders saw "an opportunity not only to greet him, but to also share our views and concerns - just like any other Marine Parade resident would have done".

The spokesman added: "When we learnt that he might be stopping by, we prepared the statement which has been FCBC's position and concern all this while. Our intention was to give it to him if he was just passing through, but since he was happy to come into our worship service, we decided to read the statement to him."

Shortly after Mr Goh's visit, FCBC posted on its website that Mr Goh "responded to Reverend Khong with a strong word of encouragement. 'You stand by your belief, and you'll be fine!'"

But Mr Goh's office clarified on Thursday that he had merely made a "general remark that people are free to stand by their beliefs".

The church website has since amended its original posting, dropping the phrase "strong word of encouragement".

twong@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Grace Chua


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