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Church feels the heat over gay singer's gig

Purely business, says New Creation as churches' body looks into complaint

THE National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) is looking into a complaint about a church-owned venue hosting an upcoming concert by openly gay singer Adam Lambert.

Lambert is due to perform next Friday at The Star Performing Arts Centre, a commercial entity fully owned by Rock Productions, the business arm of New Creation Church.

New Creation is a member of the NCCS, which represents about 200 churches in Singapore.

NCCS general secretary Lim K. Tham said the council had received a complaint from a Christian that "the gay lifestyle may be promoted at the concert, and that the concert venue is owned by a church," he said.

"The NCCS has conveyed this concern to New Creation so that it can make a response."

The Media Development Authority (MDA) said it has also received feedback from some members of the public "expressing concern" about the concert. It declined to reveal what their concerns were.

Even though it is not the first time that Lambert has performed here, the NCCS said it did not receive complaints about his previous gigs. The MDA declined to say whether it received any complaints about him previously.

He performed at Resorts World Sentosa in 2010 and sang at the Formula One Grand Prix at the Padang in 2011.

When contacted, New Creation referred The Straits Times to a statement it posted on its website on Feb 9.

It said that the 5,000-seat performing arts centre in Buona Vista "operates its business independently from New Creation with a strict arms-length policy in place".

It highlighted that the authorities, in awarding the tender to Rock Productions, stipulated that the venue had to operate "on a purely commercial basis and will not implement any leasing or pricing policies that will discriminate between religious groups, institutions or organisations from hiring the venue".

The church noted that all public events require a public entertainment licence from the police, and government bodies such as MDA deal with issues of public decency.

"We have the utmost confidence in their policies and ability to protect the interest of the general public," said the church.

Any event at the performing arts centre "should not be misconstrued or misunderstood" as the church "approving of its artistic presentation or endorsing the lifestyle of the performer", said the statement.

It did not mention Adam Lambert nor any specific performers.

A spokesman for Lambert's concert organiser, Hype Records, said it has not received any complaints about the concert. She added that they chose the venue based on "technical and capacity requirements".

Mr Danny Yeo, group managing director for Knight Frank, said that since this venue is meant for the performing arts, "it will be difficult for the owner not to accept any booking unless it has a good reason to do so, and should only be decided on a commercial, not religious, basis".

This is not the first time that Christians have raised concerns about a pop concert in recent months.

The MDA previously met with the NCCS and LoveSingapore, a network of 100 churches, about Lady Gaga's concert in May last year. It is understood that they had raised concerns over how she may have insulted Christians and promoted homosexuality at her concert.

The MDA said the concert had been licensed with an advisory that it contained "some controversial religious content". It said it found the eventual performance was in compliance with guidelines for that rating, which allows for "some mature content and coarse language".

An MDA spokesman said the classification of Lambert's concert is in progress.

She added the agency regularly receives feedback that helps ensure classification decisions "are in line with community standards, and protect the young from undesirable content while allowing consumers to make more informed decisions".

twong@sph.com.sg

This story first appeared in The Straits Times on March 2, 2013

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