Sarawak churches demand apology from federal minister over comments against Christians

The Association of Churches in Sarawak has demanded that Malaysia's Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor should apologize for saying that churches were being used by Christian leaders to criticize the government.

(REUTERS / Bazuki Muhammad)Christians attend Sunday Mass to celebrate Malaysia Day at a church in Tambunan, Malaysia, September 16, 2012.

In a statement, ACS expressed sadness over the federal minister's claim that fake news was being spread in churches. DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Mansor should take back his controversial remarks without condition and apologize to the offended Christians to show that he respects freedom of religion, The Malay Mail Online relayed.

"As Christians approach the season of Lent, it comes as a shock and with deep sadness for the Church to be accused by the minister of spreading lies against the government," said ACS. "It is unfair to accuse Christian of spreading fake news or lies in Church when we are observing World Interfaith Harmony week along with a number of charitable and educational functions of the Church."

In addition, ACS said Ku Nan ought to work towards improving Malaysia's interfaith relations. They said he must respect citizens' right to practice their faith.

Mansor, who is also known as Ku Nan, said a news portal had merely misinterpreted his comments. On Feb. 3, he mentioned he had just been trying to tell people to avoid using churches to relay fake news regarding the government.

Despite his explanation, Ku Nan drew backlash from many Malaysians and even from Christians on social media. Parti Warisan Sabah deputy president Darell Leiking said the minister's remarks were offensive to both the Christian faith and the church, The Malaysian Insight reported.

Gerald Wahh Onn, on the other hand, said the minister could not have known if churches were being used for slander if he is a Muslim. He added that churches in their area never discuss politics.

Stephen Doss asked Ku Nan to cite specific examples of churches that preach about politics or go about slandering the government. He said the minister should also spur an investigation into those churches.