PETALING JAYA: Discourse on the faith and nature of Christianity such as the one at UiTM by Indonesian lecturers is not helping to promote mutual understanding and respect, said church groups.
Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri said such interfaith discourse in the country was becoming more “unhelpful”.
“The controversial seminar that was held at UiTM is a case in point. Speakers at the forum apparently want to promote bigoted religious views,” he said in a statement here yesterday.
On Tuesday, the seminar at UiTM in Shah Alam, which featured Indonesian lecturers, had touched on the use of the word “Allah” by Christians here and Christology, the field of study involving the nature and person of Jesus Christ.
It was reported that an Indonesian speaker in the forum had allegedly said Christians were “betraying God” unless they became Muslims and that Islam was the only “true religion”.
Speaker Insan L. S. Mokoginta had also listed 10 examples to support his argument, including a verse in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Dr Hermen said the fact that UiTM had allowed such seminars showed that academic authorities were “willing to tolerate and perhaps even promote a certain brand of religious teaching to promote a certain agenda”.
The cause of inter-religious understanding and peaceful co-existence, said Dr Hermen, would receive a huge boost if universal values shared by all religions were instead inculcated among students.
“The fact that our country has reached an all-time low in interfaith relations is not surprising given the almost weekly occurrence of some form of bigoted view of religion being given prominence,” he added.
Christian Federation of Malaysia chairman Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng said that while it supported academic freedom and the right of a public university to organise lectures on any topic, this should not be indiscriminately used to “promote skewed statements with no opportunity for rebuttal of facts”.
“That is a clear abuse of trust and stewardship,” said Dr Eu, adding that the seminar was “nothing more than hate speech” and “sectarian religious propaganda thinly disguised as academic freedom”.