An American preacher, Lou Engle, who spoke out against Islam in a sermon at a Singapore Christian church in March 2018, has been banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) from preaching here again in future.
Following what happened, MHA subsequently stated that it was looking into the matter.
Engle banned, local pastors warned
In response to Mothership.sg's queries on the outcome of the investigation, MHA said Engle has been banned from preaching in Singapore.
Engle had previously been asked by the police to return to Singapore for an interview and investigation, but he had not, thus far, responded to their requests.
MHA added that the police, in consultation with the Attorney General's Chambers, has issued a stern warning to the Singapore pastors who had been involved in applying for Engle's Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP) under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
For those of you not in the know, a foreign preacher who wishes to preach here must have a Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP) that is applied for on his behalf by a sponsor.
MHA added that one of the pastors has been barred for a period of one year, from the time the warning was administered, from sponsoring any MWP applications for foreign religious preachers.
As for the other pastor, MHA stated that he has since apologised to the Mufti and local Muslim leaders for Engle's offensive comments.
Reddit thread accuses another pastor of harbouring anti-Islam views
More recently, on Mar. 11, 2019, a thread emerged on the Reddit Singapore forum alleging that an Australian pastor, Colin Maxwell Stringer, who had been invited by New Creation Church to preach in Singapore on Mar. 10, also holds religiously divisive views.
The thread referenced what was supposedly a blog that had been written by Stringer as evidence of his Islamophobic views, in which Stringer had stated that Islam was a religion bent on world conquest and that it threatened Australia's status as a Christian nation.
The blog post further called for Christians in Australia to be more proactive in politics and take a stand against politicians willing to accommodate Muslims immigrants who carried a militant form of their religion.
The blog appears to have been taken down prior to Friday (Mar. 15) afternoon.
MHA made their assessment based on sermons
In response to Mothership.sg's queries, MHA confirmed that Stringer had received a MWP to deliver a sermon at New Creation Church in Singapore on Mar. 10.
MHA added that an assessment of Stringer's sermons was also conducted, which included his previous sermons in Singapore.
It said it had not received information that Stringer had made any statements of concern during his latest sermon over the weekend.
It further stressed that organisations inviting foreign religious preachers, regardless of faith, are under an obligation to advise foreign religious preachers to avoid any actions or statements that may undermine our social cohesion and racial/religious harmony.
In elaborating on the considerations given to vetting foreign preachers, MHA shared the following:
- MHA will take into account various factors, including the foreign speaker’s past statements and teachings.
- MHA will also consider, amongst other matters, the possibility of strife and intolerance spreading amongst various religious communities, possible damage and impact to social harmony and values, and the likelihood that the person’s statements may be offensive to local communities.
- A decision is always made after taking into account the above factors and MHA will consider each application on its own merits.
- In the case of foreign preachers who undermine social cohesion, they can expect action to be taken against them and their sponsors, such as being denied work passes to engage in further religious activity in Singapore, or banned from entering Singapore, in egregious cases.
MHA did not elaborate on whether the assessment of Stringer had been done on his blogpost as well.
Here is MHA's statement in full:
"Reply on Rev Col Stringer:
In response to media queries, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) confirms that Mr Colin Maxwell Stringer was granted a Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP) to deliver a sermon at the New Creation Church in Singapore on 10 March 2019. An assessment was done of his past sermons, including those he had given in Singapore (when he was granted MWPs to speak here) previously.
2. MHA has not received information that Mr Stringer had made any statements of concern during his sermon on 10 March 2019.
3. The organising bodies inviting foreign religious preachers, regardless of faith, are under an obligation to advise these foreign religious preachers to avoid any actions or statements that may undermine our social cohesion and racial/religious harmony.
Reply on investigations outcome on Lou Engle:
In response to media queries, the Police said they have completed investigations, in relation to comments by American preacher Mr Louis Dean Engle during the Kingdom Invasion Conference 2018.
2. In consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Police have administered a stern warning/advisory to the Singapore Pastors involved for contravening conditions under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (under which Mr Engle’s Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP) was granted). One of the Pastors has been barred from sponsoring any MWP applications, for foreign religious preachers. The bar will be for a period of one year, from the time the warning was administered. The other Pastor has also apologised to the Mufti and Muslim community leaders for the offensive comments made by Mr Engle.
3. Mr Engle has been banned from preaching in Singapore. Police had asked him to return to Singapore for interview and investigation, but he has not, thus far, responded to Police requests."
Top image: screenshot from Cornerstone Community Church video