Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Mixing Religion with Politics

The installation of Archbishop Paul Kwong (left) in 2007
The campaign against Occupy Central continues, and this time it's Reverend Paul Kwong, the Archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church.

On Sunday he spoke to his congregation and gave a sermon on how to be a Christian.

He could not help but wade into politics, and perhaps it's not surprising that as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, he would have a particular slant on the July 1 march and Occupy Central.

"Whenever people see me, or other church leaders, they will say, 'We must speak up! Speak up at all times, on everything, understand? It is a must to fight'," he said.

"For what do people have to speak up so much? [It appears] as if they wouldn't have another chance, as if they were dumb otherwise," Kwong said.

He then talked about the virtues of silence, citing a Biblical story of how Jesus behaved when he was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate.

"Jesus remained silent in the face of Pilate. He was like a lamb awaiting slaughter. Sometimes we don't have to say anything. Silence is better than saying anything."

Kwong also made a dig at the young protesters who were arrested on Chater Road in Central the day following the July 1 march.

"Last week some students arrested by the police told reporters: 'We had no food to eat. We had to queue up for the toilet'. I would say, 'why didn't they bring along their Filipino maids to the march'."

But perhaps the best part was when he said the city should keep quiet, just as "Jesus remained silent" in the face of crucifixion.

Not everyone was a fan of Kwong after he made these remarks.

A female caller told RTHK today that she was outraged by his sermon and that she now "needs to join another church".

"He is really outrageous," she said. "He has changed since his CPPCC appointment. He feels the need to speak for the central government. Does he know what the 'one country, two systems' policy is? He doesn't even know the Basic Law. How can he be a religious leader?"

It's interesting that Kwong is a member of the CPPCC as Beijing doesn't look too kindly on religion unless it's government sanctioned. Perhaps the Hong Kong Anglican Church is "harmonized" or politically correct towards the central government?

And since when does a religious leader (other than the Pope) make political comments?

And why is Kwong making fun of people who felt strongly enough to spend most of their public holiday to come out and march in the heat and rain with hundreds of thousands of other people to peacefully express their outrage about Beijing's white paper?

Some of the students may have been young and didn't know or think about what they were getting themselves into when they decided to stay overnight in Central. But the July 1 march is a good introduction to civic education, to exercise their right to express themselves and be part of a congenial atmosphere that is rare in Hong Kong the other 364 days of the year.

Kwong's most egregious comments are telling people not to speak up, and that they should be docile, like a lamb to the slaughter.

If we don't speak up and push back, then our freedoms and rights will be infringed upon even more -- no one is looking out for us -- the pan-democrats are too busy bickering amongst themselves, or throwing things in the Legislative Council. And so it is up to us to say something.

We understand that Beijing has some jurisdiction over Hong Kong -- but not all. The city still has rule of law that is unique as well as freedom of speech and the press.

The last I looked it's not 2047 yet...

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