By Boo Su-Lyn
August 06, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — Christian groups are calling for evidence behind two Malay dailies’ allegations that they are trying to convert Muslims through welfare aid.
Berita Harian and Harian Metro reported today that certain Christian organisations were hiding behind the guise of welfare aid by offering monthly cash allowances of at least RM1,000 to hard-hit Muslims and their families in an attempt to turn them into Christians.
The pro-Barisan Nasional newspapers’ allegations came after the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and the police raided a multiracial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya last Wednesday night, based on a report that the Christian-majority crowd was allegedly proselytising to Muslim guests.
“If you’re saying that Christians give RM5,000, now you convert, show the proof,” Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri (picture) told The Malaysian Insider today.
“By making this statement, they’re trying to disrupt the good relations between the religious communities in the country by taking on the Christians,” he said.
Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia recently accused Christians of plotting to take over the government and claimed that the July 9 Bersih rally was funded by Christian organisations.
The controversial Jais raid has increased religious tension in the country, where churches were fire-bombed last year and Christians were barred from referring to their god as “Allah”.
Shastri pointed out that Muslims also did welfare work.
“As a result, some are being converted to Islam because they see the good work of the Muslims,” he said.
“If a person gives RM10,000 and you convert, that’s wrong. But if person is often in a home, then leaves the home, is impressed by Catholic sisters and becomes Catholic, what’s wrong with that?” asked the pastor.
National Evangelical Christian Fellowship chairman Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng stressed that Christians gave aid regardless of race or religion.
“We will help anybody and everybody and we don’t expect anything in return. Just because I help you doesn’t mean I want you to convert,” he said.
The pastor pointed out that he has yet to see someone converting to Christianity after receiving welfare aid from Christian organisations.
Berita Harian quoted a woman — who was detained during the Jais raid — as saying that Muslim participants were forbidden to believe in Prophet Muhammad, but were asked to follow Jesus’ teachings through talks and songs during the dinner.
“The church has got weddings, funerals. You mean, in my funeral songs, because a Muslim comes to pay respects to his friend who died, I must stop singing hymns? You come to my place of worship, that is what we do lah,” said Eu in response.
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