Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia has questioned Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s silence on the seized-Bibles issue and said it appeared to be a political strategy.

“I am inclined to think that he is conveying that the whole charade is not worthy of his comment. To do otherwise is to dignify what is plainly wicked,” Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok said today.

Lapok, who is also chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak, also questioned the prime minister's refusal to condemn the action of the extreme minority “that is poisoning inter-religious tolerance”.

“The prime minister’s inaction may be politically smart. But is it morally right?” he said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christ is Risen! The response during Eastertide is “He is Risen indeed!” Often the thought of the presence of the Risen Christ bothers me. Where is the Risen Christ now? This seems to be a silly question. Of course, Christ has ascended and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, as described in Romans 8:34. What I am really interested in is ‘Does the Risen Christ have a place in our lives?

Read it all (page 3).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEaster* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted May 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The oldest Anglican church in Malaysia recently held a special service to pray for the families and victims of flight MH 370, the Malaysian government and other governments involved in the search and rescue efforts.

The Special Service of Praying for MH 370 was held on Sunday, 6th April in Christ Church, Melaka to allow worshippers to identify themselves, and stand in solidarity with those affected by the tragedy.

The Rt Revd Jason Selvaraj, Assistant Bishop of West Malaysia, said, "We wanted to tell the families that we are concerned and we stand with you at this painful time. We wanted to tell our Malaysian government and its people that our leaders are very much in our prayers as they work on the search and rescue mission.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the row over the use of the word Allah still simmering, Anglican Christians in Sarawak said they will go all out to defend their right to use the word in worship.

Datuk Bolly Lapok, Anglican Archbishop for Southeast Asia, said they were willing to abandon their calling to be peacemakers and reconcilers, if “turning the other cheek to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that are relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry is tantamount to sending a wrong message to them”.

He said this in a statement after a mass gathering of its Iban speaking congregation in Sri Aman today.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The saga of MH370, the Malaysian Airlines flight missing for more than two weeks, seems to be entering its final chapter. Earlier this week, engineers developed a method to estimate the plane’s trajectory, and debris appear to have been spotted in satellite images.

While the technique used to track the flight path has been called “groundbreaking,” it actually rests on some fairly old-fashioned physics. In fact, the basic method has been used to conduct satellite search and rescue operations for more than 30 years, predating our always-connected, GPS-enabled world.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyTravel* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted March 27, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word "Allah" to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

The unanimous decision by three Muslim judges in Malaysia's appeals court overturned a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay-language version of the newspaper, The Herald, to use the word Allah - as many Christians in Malaysia say has been the case for centuries.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Malaysia is clamping down on Shi'ism, the second branch of Islamic orthodoxy, in a move that appears to have both religious and political overtones.

The nationwide crackdown began last month with the ban of local Shi'ite group Pertubuhan Syiah Malaysia. The same month, state governments gazetted a 1996 fatwa issued by the National Fatwa Council that declared Shi'ism deviant and therefore haram or impermissible.

There is also a witch hunt that has been going on for Shi'ite believers in four universities in Selangor and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur, as well as in the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 10, 2013 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A decision by Prime Minister Najib Razak to meet with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday signals a wish to mend ties with Malaysia’s Christians following a series of incidents, including the firebombing of churches, that have strained interfaith relations in this Muslim-majority nation, analysts say.

Mr. Najib is scheduled to visit Benedict at Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence near Rome, for talks that are expected to touch on the possibility of Malaysia establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVIOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 16, 2011 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The priest of the 19th century St George’s Church is grateful that the church has return to its former glory thanks to the RM1.8 million restoration project under the National Heritage Department’s Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Venerable Charles Samuel said church members were very grateful to the government’s contribution in the refurbishment of the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. The restoration project was completed in November last year.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest NewsAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East Asia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In established democracies, the Internet has become a powerful political tool used for mobilizing, fundraising and advertising. The Internet has taken on an important but different role in emerging democracies, such as Malaysia, where its use has been essential in breaking a half-century old monopoly on power by the ruling coalition.

When mainstream media will not or cannot cover important political stories, many Malaysians click toward Malaysiakini, or Malaysia Now, the nation's most popular news website.

The site attracts 300,000 visitors a day to its text and video content in English, Bahasa, Chinese and Tamil. The languages reflect the main ethnic groups of Malaysia's 28 million people: roughly 54 percent ethnic Malays, 24 percent ethnic Chinese and 7 percent ethnic Indians.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia

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Posted November 23, 2010 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Metro Tabernacle Church, a storefront with metal shutters, sits gutted, black smoke stains on the concrete pillars bearing witness to the intense fire that destroyed the property.

The attacks on this and more than a dozen other houses of worship in January, followed in February by the caning of three Muslim teenagers for extramarital sex and a kerfuffle this month over an insulting act during a Christian service have prompted some soul-searching in Malaysia.

Though religious tensions have occasionally simmered in this multicultural society, these were the first attacks in recent memory, and left some Malaysians wondering how committed their nation remains to its relatively tolerant brand of Islam and what the cost could be to its global image, foreign investments and tourism trade.

"It hurts your international reputation," said Kharis Idris, director of the MyFuture Foundation, which promotes multicultural engagement. "Church burning doesn't sound good in any country. If it goes on, it will be bad for the economy. And if someone were to kill someone, all hell could break loose."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 31, 2010 at 12:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I’m not saying Christians are more to blame than Muslims for the world’s diverse Christian-Muslim tensions. In Nigeria, for example, the intensity of Christian proselytizing comes partly from past persecution by a Muslim majority; the Christians seek safety in numbers, so the bigger their numbers, the better. (Griswold explained this to me, and confirmed that, yes, assertive Christian proselytizing exacerbates tensions in Nigeria.)

Still, even if proselytizing isn’t the prime mover, my guess is that it pretty consistently falls in the “not helpful” category from the point of view of world peace and, ultimately, American security. And some of it — e.g., the “Camel Method” — is particularly antagonistic. Which explains why I’m not a big fan of that first headline, “A Christian Overture to Muslims Has Its Critics.” Overtures, when effective, don’t heighten tensions.

I’d like to be able to report that the “critics” in this headline are Christians who worry about heightening tensions and so refrain from offensive proselytizing. Alas, they’re Christians who favor assertive proselytizing but are offended by any suggestion that Muslims and Christians might worship the same god. One of them, Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., said in a recent podcast, “There’s nothing that the two gods — the god of the Koran and the god of scripture — have in common. Nothing.”

Well, to look at the bright side: Maybe that’s a basis for interfaith rapport; Caner can sit around with Malaysian Muslims and agree that they worship different gods.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted March 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Feb. 3, Ergun Caner, president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., focused attention on a Southern Baptist controversy when he called Jerry Rankin, the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board, a liar. Dr. Caner has since apologized for his language, but he still maintains that the “Camel Method,” a strategy Dr. Rankin endorses for preaching Christianity to Muslims, is deceitful.

Instead of talking about the Jesus of the New Testament, missionaries using the Camel Method point Muslims to the Koran, where in the third chapter, or sura, an infant named Isa — Arabic for Jesus — is born. Missionaries have found that by starting with the Koran’s Jesus story, they can make inroads with Muslims who reject the Bible out of hand. But according to Dr. Caner, whose attack on Dr. Rankin came in a weekly Southern Baptist podcast, the idea that the Koran can contain the seeds of Christian faith is “an absolute, fundamental deception.”

David Garrison, a missionary who edited a book on the Camel Method by Kevin Greeson, the method’s developer, defends the use of the Koran as a path to Jesus. “You aren’t criticizing Muhammad or any other prophets,” Dr. Garrison said, “just raising Jesus up.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 13, 2010 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Malaysia's simmering religious and racial conflicts could worsen after worshippers Wednesday found the severed heads of wild boars at two mosques, amid a dispute over whether Christians can use the term "Allah" as a translation for "God."

Muslims consider pigs unclean, and leaving boar heads at a mosque is a potentially inflammatory insult, mirroring an incident last year when Muslim activists flung a severed cow head on a proposed site for a Hindu temple near Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday's incident is considered the most offensive case of sacrilege against a Muslim place of worship since a storm erupted over the use of the Arabic word "Allah." It threatens to further upset this resource-rich, racially diverse country and complicate Prime Minister Najib Razak's efforts to build a multiracial support base before national elections, which must be held by 2013.

Adding to tensions, the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges--the second he has faced in little more than a decade--is scheduled to begin next week. Mr. Anwar leads a multiracial opposition alliance trying to replace Malaysia's government after 57 years in power. Prosecutors accuse him of sodomizing a young male aide in 2008--an illegal act in Malaysia. Mr. Anwar, 62 years old, says the story was fabricated to destroy him.
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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 29, 2010 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There's a certain irony in the fact that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak traveled to Saudi Arabia, of all places, within 24 hours of his administration's threat to use draconian measures to quell religious violence. His absence during a crisis is a mistake, as is his government's approach to it so far.

The "Allah" scandal is the most serious domestic challenge the Najib government has yet faced in its nine months in office. Since a High Court ruling two weeks ago allowed Christians to use the word "Allah" in their Malay-language publications, radical Islamists have capitalized on the fraught climate to intimidate Malaysians and push their agenda. Yesterday saw the 11th in a spate of incidents, with Molotov cocktails, bricks and stones hurled against churches, a convent school, and even a Sikh temple. Lawyers representing Christian plaintiffs have found their offices ransacked. No perpetrators have yet been caught.

So far, the ruling United Malays National Organization is trying to tramp down the violence in any way it can—except the right way, which is to abandon the hardline Islamism that has traditionally appealed to its political base....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 15, 2010 at 10:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another Christian church has been attacked in Malaysia - the ninth such incident since Friday.

No one was injured in the attack on an evangelical Christian church, but buildings were damaged by what appear to have been home-made petrol bombs.

In another case a church was vandalised with black paint.

The attacks appear to have been triggered by a High Court ruling last month that overturned a government ban on non-Muslims using the word "Allah".

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of Malaysian Christian churches hit by firebombs and vandal attacks has reached six following a court decision last week to allow Christians to use the term “Allah” in Malay language publications.

A Molotov cocktail was hurled at the Anglican All Saints Church in Taiping town in Perak state early yesterday, said state police chief Zulkifli Abdullah. He said the building was not damaged, The Australian reports.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 11, 2010 at 12:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Would-be arsonists in mostly Muslim Malaysia struck at a convent school and a sixth church on Sunday while church and government leaders called for calm in a row over Christians' use of the word "Allah" to refer to God.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted January 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Attackers firebombed three churches in the southeast Asian nation of Malaysia overnight, assaults that come amid widespread Muslim ire over a court ruling that allowed Christians to use the word Allah as a term for God.

Malaysian news reports said no casualties have been reported, and police have promised to step up security for churches and other places of worship.

But the acts stirred unease in the diverse society -- where 60 percent of the people are Muslim, 19 percent are Buddhist, 9 percent are Christian and 6 percent are Hindu.

"We regret the irresponsible actions of certain extremist elements for the recent spate of firebombs thrown into church premises. These actions display their immaturity and intolerance toward others within a multi-racial society," the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia said in a statement.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam

5 Comments
Posted January 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The religious order banning women from dressing like tomboys was bad enough. But the fatwa by this country's leading clerics against yoga was the last straw.

"They have never even done yoga," said Zainah Anwar, a founder of a Malaysian women's rights group called Sisters in Islam.

Anwar argues that the edict, issued late last year by the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia, is pure patriarchy. Islam, she says, is only a cover.

It was frustrations like those that drew several hundred Muslim women to a conference in this Muslim-majority country over the weekend. Their mission was to come up with ways to demand equal rights for women. And their tools, however unlikely, were the tenets of Islam itself.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 17, 2009 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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