22 April 2009

What does religion have to do with anything?

It was never about religion

Gentle readers: from the blogs you've been reading about the Aware takeover, how many of them make religion the issue? How many of them invent religious epithets for the group of 9? As with Sam, we note the prevalence of hate speech against a certain religion in the dominant discourse, and express our disconcert and disapproval of the vituperative language. We note the use of a certain epithet used by a certain Mr Yawning Bread. We will not repeat or link it here, out of decency and taste.

The religious affiliation of the group of 9 are no concern ours. Do not mistake Illusio for any of the websites or newspapers attempting to make hay out of the religious issue.

All comments attempting to rake up anti-religious sentiment or discuss the religious persuasion of the group of 9 have been and will continue to be deleted.

At Illusio, the moral outrage comes from the manner of the takeover, the behaviour of the group of 9 at the AGM and after the AGM. The issue for Illusio is the non-transparency of the group of 9, its subversion of the democratic process, the undisguised hostility of its takeover, the purge it has conducted since assuming power, and its blatant disregard for the open rules of civil society.

To paraphrase someone: I know of no religion that will condone this!

What do you do with people like this? Some suggest Operation Leper sounds like a thousand angry sharks jumping over the blogosphere, that it is too vicious...

But what would you do to a group of 9 who has done all this?

They won fair and square, right? Right?

We note with concern the political illiteracy prevailing in the discourse of Aware, where it pertains to the oft-repeated claim that the takeover was 'democratic' or 'legitimate'.

We identify this as illiteracy due to the fundamental inability of these commentators to distinguish between a victory achieved by pro forma adherence to Aware's constitution and a victory achieved through a fair and transparent election.

A takeover of any NGO, society, church, or listed company must - out of pragmatic and strategic concerns - be pro forma legal. Yet a takeover where membership rolls have been stacked and leaders pushed through without any honest and open discussion (thanks to the numbers) can only be seen as morally illegitimate. Immoral, even. Or in civil society terms, very much unhelpful to the maintenance of its values of openness, fairness, and transparency.

The charge of political illiteracy is made also on the grounds that similar hostile takeovers of NGOs and church have been occurring for the past 2 decades in other countries, with the appropriate uproar and condemnation - and yet our commentators are content, even adamant on not seeing evil where it clearly lies.

Yes they won according to the rules. Corporate raiders also make sure they win according to the rules. NGO and church raiders also make sure they win according tot the rules. But clearly, there's a difference between following the rules, and resorting to every trick and subterfuge in the book while following the rules. The difference is how your victory smells.

But what would you do to a group of 9 who has done all this?

I know of one religion at least, that would say:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.

Even the Bible prescribes sanctions against the immoral.


Nevin said...

So, using strong words and bringing religion into the debate somehow offends your delicate sensibilities. But hey, its perfectly ok to promote an Operation Leper which encourages ostracism.

A tad hypocritical, no?

Anonymous said...

The concern is with the fundamentalist views previously expressed by a fair number of the new Excom and the similarly extremist stance of the particular religious congregation that they all happen to subscribe to. So yes, I think this is a valid issue in this whole fiasco.

akikonomu said...


Let's get this straight:

Operation Leper advocates a series of boycott actions.

Because the group of 9's first ever foray into civil society, first ever participation in an NGO/welfare/voluntary group has been so unprincipled, we suggest they never be appointed to future positions in these societies.

I suggest you are deliberately and dishonestly using the word ostracism - as a cyberbully of sorts, you of all people should realise ostracism involves engagement - active persecution. Operation Leper is a boycott action - disengagement. There is no comparison whatsoever.

akikonomu said...


The quandary of political scientists and pollsters happen to be this:

1. Attitudes, beliefs, ideology, persuasions and leanings can all be quantified.

2. Yet the problem is always how well these actually result in concrete actions, as well as explaining if observable concrete actions were solely due to these beliefs.

With respect to the takeover: the group of 9 are pro forma "clean". As smart political operators, they will never give you the smoking gun linking their faith to their actions and decisions as the Aware exco. And the more accusations are directed at them about their religious motivations, the more they will be entitled to say "smear campaign", "anti-religious hatred", "ostracism", and so on.

It will forever be a case of - "yes, they're fundies, but they haven't done any fundie thing yet". Like FOTF Singapore, there will never be an explicit reference to religious values while this new exco runs Aware.

What is a smoking gun then?
1. proof that not just the group of 9, but ALL the new ordinary members whose overwhelming forced them on the exco, were all members of the same church.

This is necessary, but not sufficient, and must be augmented with:

2. Internal emails and other communications between the 9 and the 100, showing a coordinated effort to take over Aware that originates from within their church.

If and when there is a smoking gun, this blog will allow religion to be discussed =D