13 December 2008

The conservative case for: Rejecting Focus on the Family Singapore

Elsewhere in blogland: a campaign to rail against the DBS sponsorship of the Singapore branch of Focus on the Family, spearheaded by Singapore's favourite gay overlord Alex Au and other more media-savvy activists. There is little to comment on the tired and self-serving propaganda battles between the gay activists and the family activists, except to note thus:

No religion please, we're Singaporeans

FOTF Singapore is a non-religious affiliate of the American evangelical FOTF founded by James Dobson.

The FOTF mother organisation in America has muscled its way into American politics and public policy. It is unashamed of what it sees as its religious mission to fight the cultural wars on the gays, liberals and their degenerate sexual mores, to protect its vision of a traditional family.

Yet the overseas branches of FOTF tend to display some reticence and even coy near-disavowal of the religious underpinnings of their pro-family activities and public policy positions.

As an exercise, you can search for full details of FOTF Singapore's charter here. You should find this:

1. To meet the heartfelt needs of families and to provide them with a legacy of solid marriages, stable homes, reverence for human life and sound moral principles that undergird the foundations of Family Life.

2. To publish, translate, produce, sell and distribute books, magazines, audio-cassettes, CDs, videos, films, radio and TV programmes, educational toys and other related resource materials relating to the promotion of Family Life.

3. To organize and promote talks, seminars, workshops, conferences, meetings, camps and special events and to train and provide counseling and mediation services on all matters affecting Family Life.

4. To conduct research, facilitate education and training on Family Life issues and to work with local and international institutions, organizations and government agencies to promote and propagate positive family values by whatever means and in whatever manner as may now or hereafter be available.

Compare with mothership FOTF's mission statement:

To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible by nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide.

Redeemed families, communities, and societies worldwide through Christ.

The conservative case against FOTF

There is something to be said about the variance between the charters of the local FOTF and its chapterhouse in the US. For anyone who expects consistency if not truth, it is intolerable that the branch organisation be seen to hide its true ideological allegiance and ties to its mother organisation.

At best, this variance may be seen as a cynical attempt to gently skirt the religious and ideological issue in a society where the US evangelical culture-political wars hold very little traction. At worst, this is the sort of deceit practised by peaceful charities linked to nefarious terrorist organisations. And somewhere in between, whoever drew up the charter for the Singapore branch clearly understood that the religious angle of FOTF would have automatically prevented a successful registration with the Registry of Societies - proselytism being a no-no in Singapore's charity landscape. What follows is a cynical exercise in bad faith...

"No, don't look at us with those eyes. We're not really the same conservative Christian organisation as the one that bears our name in the United States. Even though theoretically we're a branch of that same organisation... we're really independent of them. Don't even think about Focus on the Family when you think of Focus on the Family Singapore."

By its very existence, Focus on the Family Singapore has already succeeded in making fools out of the Registry of Charities. Because of what they've done, any questionable, dangerous, or undesirable foreign organisation may now set up a proxy branch in Singapore that bears the same name, admit to being a branch, and yet pretend it has shares nothing of the ideology and principles of the mother organisation.

As a conservative, I expect honesty and consistency from any activist group. As a conservative, I'm shocked and appalled at the level of obfuscation and bad faith mirror-dressing of Focus on the Family Singapore. In its disowning of the religious commission behind its charter, the Singapore chapter has turned its face against God in a misguided attempt to appeal to the authorities and religiously-apathetic locals here.

Know your organisation! Call to Action

I urge all Christian conservatives to contact the office holders of Focus on the Family Singapore, to question them about the sincerity of their efforts and to demand they make a clear stand on whether religion guides their hearts when they run this organisation, and to rectify their misleading, Christ-denying charter.

From the same MCYS search page, contact these publicly known officers and office holders of FOTF Singapore:

President: Joanna Koh-Hoe Su Yin. We know that however much she wants to come across as a president of a non-religious organisation, she has given a sermon at the non-denominational River of Life Community Church. We hope she has more pride in her religion and fess up unashamedly of how it should guide her organisation.

Office holders:
Lee Wee Min. A Malaysian by birth, Lee is the president of FOTF Malaysia and has been more above board in that group's operations, openly organising seminars at Subang Methodist Church and giving a lecture on "Covenant Marriage" in his FOTF Malaysia capacity at Indonesia's Lippo-group linked Harvest International Theological Seminary.

Soh Gim Teik. CFO of Sincere Watch Company. Also Director of WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature (Singapore) Ltd.

Ho Sun Yee. Former CEO of Singapore Heart Foundation.

Wong Siu Hong Alfred. Founder, Managing Director and Executive Director of Noel Gifts International Ltd.

Tan Thuan Seng. Former President of FOTF Singapore.

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