Anglican Church 'not forcing its views on Madonna concert'

 Installation ceremony of the new Anglican Bishop, Reverend Rennis Ponniah at St Andrew's Cathedral.
Installation ceremony of the new Anglican Bishop, Reverend Rennis Ponniah at St Andrew's Cathedral.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Anglican Bishop of Singapore has weighed in on American singer Madonna's concert, saying that the Church is not forcing its views on non-believers in asking Christians not to attend the concert.

Reverend Rennis Ponniah said the Church is only calling on Christians to make choices that "decisively show" their love for God, in a pastoral letter put on the Diocese of Singapore's website on Friday.

His remarks come one week after Catholic Archbishop William Goh urged Catholics not to attend the Rebel Heart tour, which takes place tonight.

Rev Ponniah said the Church was making a stand not to be moralistic or "arrogantly prescriptive for everybody else".

"The Church is not simply anti-this or anti-that. Rather, we have a God-given role to bear witness to the values that make for life - values that undergird peoples' choices."

Archbishop Goh had reminded Catholics last week of their moral obligation "not to support those who denigrate and insult religions".

He said in a statement that he had told various government ministries and statutory boards of the "Catholic Church's grave concerns" about the concert, to be held at the Sports Hub. He also told The Sunday Times that Catholics who had already bought tickets to the concert should "act according to their informed conscience".

His comments had sparked debate online, with some people seeing it as an attempt to clamp down on freedom of expression.

The concert, which has an R18 rating here, has been altered slightly for the Singapore audience, with religiously sensitive content removed.

In his statement, Rev Ponniah acknowledged those who were eager to champion artistic licence, but said the Church communicated with the authorities out of concern for the "self-indulgent" values promoted by the concert that are "contrary to the well-being and future of our nation".

He added that by making its views public, the Church is adding to the national conversation on what is best for Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'Anglican Church 'not forcing its views on Madonna concert''. Print Edition | Subscribe