Friday, August 23

Religious NGOs must respect each other – Maximus

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KOTA MARUDU: A senior Sabah politician yesterday issued a stern warning against religious non-governmental organisations which tried to destabilise the country by taking the law into their own hands.

“We treasure the existing religious peace and harmony that we enjoyed since the formation of Malaysia,” said acting Parti Bersatu Sabah President Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

He made the call following a provocative proposal by a coalition of Islamic NGOs to ban Christian evangelicalism in Malaysia.

“Today’s harmonious situation has been achieved through respect for the Federal Constitution and practice of moderation and tolerance towards each other’s religion,” the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister added.

Maximus, who is also the Kota Marudu Member of Parliament, further explained that religious freedom and practice are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

He noted that religious congregations are allowed, subject to certain laws, adding that there are sufficient laws in the country to deal with religious extremism.

“No group, especially religious NGOs, can take laws into their own hands. If such happens, it would only lead to religious misunderstanding and tension, thus resulting in instability in our country,” he said.

Maximus stressed that stern action should be taken against those who try to create such instability, especially when their statements are contrary to the Federal Constitution and seditious in nature.

Recently, the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) chief executive officer, Azril Mohd Amin, described evangelicalism as a “dangerous movement” and urged for it to be kept in check as it threatens religious harmony in Malaysia.

Azril said the government should consider introducing anti-evangelicalism laws to ensure attempts by evangelicals to dominate the Christian narrative do not occur.

The United Pasok Momogum Kadazandusun Murut Organsiation (Upko) and the Sabah Council of Churches have also expressed strong objections to any plan for an ‘anti-evangelicalism law’ to be introduced in the country.

Evangelism in the Christian context is an activity that broadly refers to spreading its gospel.

Evangelicalism, on the other hand, is a movement borne from the Protestant school with a specific core belief that is said to be different from mainstream Protestantism; one of them being the belief in ‘personal conversion’.

The call for an anti-evangelical law follows claims by conservative Muslim figures that some Christian groups were conspiring to ‘Christianise’ Muslim-majority Malaysia, which restricts propagation of any faith other than Islam to Muslims.