This post seeks to examine why CHC followers are so incomprehensibly stubborn in their steadfast believe in Kong Hee and gang.
Ever since the breaking of the news of the CHC scandal, there have been blows from both sides, namely the derisive attitude held by non-CHCs, and the stoic belief in Kong Hee and friends by CHC members. The difference between both is that one is understandable, and the other is not.
The derisive attitude is easy to understand. “Wah steal money still get standing ovation. The US should have given standing ovation to Bernard Madoff as well” as a quote sums most of it up actually. But the main point of these statements are a expression of disbelief. Disbelief that followers can still defend the Crossover project, their charismatic founder, his Geisha wife and the other complicit board members in spite of the evidence against them. The fact that the investigation was held over 2 years prior to his arrest speaks volumes about the amount of evidence garnered, and its thus understandable how people can’t comprehend (and therefore choose to make contemptuous comments towards) CHC members. Please note I said ‘understandable’, not ‘appropriate’ or ‘right’. That judgement of right or wrong is a personal one that I won’t make for you. In any case, look here for a summary of what exactly Kong Hee’s being arrested for.
But who, other than CHC members, can understand the CHC members steadfast refusal to look at logic and reason? The evidence is all there. Why are CHC members hunkering down, expressing strong love for the church, and donating more than ever instead of deserting it, or demanding a refund? This post explores that.
There was this source that I found of a CHC member, and another on Facebook (Can’t find it now sadly) which basically spoke of how Kong Hee flew all the way from L.A., sacrificing time with his family and money, to solemnize his marriage, and also countless other comments made on Facebook posts by CHC members. All profess conviction towards their believe in Kong Hee’s innocence and the church.
And actually, I have a theory for their behaviour, and the title of this post is derived from it. I personally think that CHC members have started to mistake their church for their religion.
When Church Becomes Religion
The reaction of CHC members to having been deceived is incomprehensible only if you look at it logically. But if you look at it as a matter of faith, it starts to make (some sort of) sense. Firstly, I quote:
I have absolute trust in the fact that none of the money was embezzled for personal gain. I believe in the Crossover Project and there was certainly no intent to deceive, as had been alleged.
Source: Here (Same as the previous link above)
Firstly, let’s do an analysis of the above bolded words. To have “absolute trust” is to have an unshakable, infallible faith, which is reinforced by the diction of “believe”. These are commonplace rhetoric used to describe one’s faith to God, to the religion. But here, the same phrases and words are used to describe one’s belief to the church, Kong Hee and others. And this is not an isolated incident. I refer you to The Sunday Times on 1st July 2012, which quotes banners displayed in Saturday’s CHC service as showing phrases like
WE LOVE PASTOR KONG
WE LOVE CHC
WE BELIEVE IN CROSSOVER PROJECT
Source: Sunday Times, 1 July 2012
So what I’m trying to show is that, it seems a little like the focus of CHC members have shifted from love and belief in God, to love and belief in Pastor Kong. The professions of faith, once reserved for God and Co., is now lavished upon the very-human shoulders of Kong Hee. It is my opinion that he has been elevated in status, if you will, such that people feel blessed that he actually came down to grace their wedding, for example, or that he actually bothers to talk to ordinary members of his congression. But CHC members have forgotten that the church is not the religion, and that Kong Hee is no more but a man.
Christianity exists outside the bounds of CHC and the charismatic words of Kong Hee. In fact, all faith lies outside institutions. Institutions are a man-made construct, God is God. Belief in Kong Hee, in the Crossover project is not synonymous with a belief in God, Christ and what they represent. Thus CHC members that allege that others are needlessly attacking their faith should really ask themselves: What exactly do is my faith? Because it really seems to me that CHC members have lost sight of that. Perhaps the reason why CHC members just cannot accept that Kong Hee is a big fat cheat is because he and the church represents the rock on which their faith is placed. If that is so, then they’re wrong aren’t they? Kong Hee and the church are just Kong Hee and the church. One’s faith should be with God and his teachings in the Bible, not in Kong Hee’s readings of the Bible and his interpretation of God’s will.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with liking an institution where you met close friends and had close bonds, and loved. I really liked my secondary school (Anderson Secondary wooo), and back then, I actually looked forward to going to school on Mondays. I had and still have close bonds with people I met there (One of them is my other half). But would I proclaim everlasting love and infallible faith in its policies? Would I close my eyes to all reason if say, the school board was found to be sponsoring the Principal’s wife’s international belly-dancing career using the students’ Edusave money, and fully trust in their assertions that it’s meant to encourage students to do well for O levels? Short answer: No. Long answer: Welll…. No.
I loved my time in Anderson, and would sing its praises to anyone who ask me about it. But it’s still just institution to me, a portal toward education. That was the goal of schooling, not the celebration of the school. And that is exactly what a church is. A portal for one to worship God. For one to learn his teachings. It should never be about its leader, or the church itself.
Furthermore, anyone with a logical mind would know that any claims that a belly-dancing wife of a Principal encourage students to do well in O levels is bullshit. Likewise, anyone who actually converted to Christianity after watching this is either lying, seriously misguided, or thinks all girls in CHC gyrate like that and converted to get some ass.
So, has CHC members forgotten why they go to church? If I was a member I’d say of course not. I still sing songs of worship to God, none of the lyrics go “How great, is Kong Hee?”. But perhaps one should take a step back, and examine exactly why he just cannot accept that Kong Hee is a fraud.
To clarify, I don’t think I’d call CHC a cult because I don’t like that word, and calling it as such colours all judgement that comes after it to make one view evidence in the light that CHC is a cult. I think CHC presents an interesting, but not that unique, case-study of misplaced faith and really, I invite everyone and anyone to investigate it and think of a theory themselves. Or perhaps a CHC member can correct me. Which leads me to my next part…
Disclaimer: The above is 99% speculation based on my own thoughts and biased beliefs. I may be wrong, but as I write this, this is what I think most explains the behaviour of CHC members. I may be wrong and in fact, so may the police. In a few months time maybe we would all stand corrected as it comes out that Kong Hee is truly innocent. If that happens, I apologise in advance.
Also, in this post, I have used the term “CHC member” as a blanket term to cover all members of CHC. However I know that, as in all institutions, all members are different and the qualities I have attributed to “CHC members” may not apply to fringe CHC-church-goers, and people in CHC who actually don’t believe in Kong Hee’s innocence (I’m sure there’re some). Thus here, I shall clarify that in my use of the term “CHC member” I refer to the hardcore and stubborn believers in Kong Hee and gang’s innocence.
As a parting note, the same edition of the Sunday Times reported that 2 people were converted to Christianity through the Crossover project, and they were brought on-stage in what resembles a “success-story” selling of the program. To that, I say that if CHC spent $50.6 million and snagged just 2 believers at $25.3 million apiece, they could have just handed out million-dollar cheques at Orchard Road and gotten 48 more “believers”. True story.