Monday, 26 August 2013

Religious leaders in a bind

A case of Lawrence vs Goliath?

FCBC Lawrence Khong
Poster outside FCBC building (Photo by Shawn Danker)

First, he challenged the minister to put him in jail. Now, he’s taking the entire ministry to court.

Well, sort of. The Straits Times (ST) reported today that Mr Lawrence Khong – magician, pastor, and now plaintiff – will ask the High Court today to review Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin’s decision to intervene in the sacking of a church employee this year.

The case involves a female church worker at the Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) who committed adultery and became pregnant – an act which the church deemed sufficient cause to fire her. The Ministry of Manpower, however, disagreed and ordered Mr Khong to pay compensation amounting to some $7,000.

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Religious leaders in a bind
Casinos and Buddhist monks are not two things that people typically associate with each other (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

So many religious leaders in the headlines this past week… and all for the wrong reasons! First, there was the Catholic priest who didn’t want to leave his church despite being told by the Archbishop to do so, then the news yesterday about that pastor-magician who fired a seven-month pregnant church worker… Incidentally, he’s in the news again today! But more on that later.

The big news in all the papers today is about a Buddhist monk who’s in court over a $1.4 million claim that he misled a businessman into opening a casino in Cambodia.

Venerable Meow Di, abbot of the Mei Feng Fo Xin Buddhist temple, is being sued by Mr Chua Kwee Sin, who claims he paid the monk about $1.39 million in 2009– which he apparently did not get back even though the venture did not take off.

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Pastors, Monks and Pie in Face

On one side, the story about Venerable Sek Meow Di going into a casino business and made $1.28m magically disappear into his robe pocket according to business partner Chua Kwee Sin! Monks and casino don't really mix, and check out his fat neck! Must be the good food and life as a monk! 

On another side, the tale of the prosperity gospel megachurch Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong being loaded enough to be a polo club member and mystical enough to be a magician also! Never mind that Jesus was a poor carpenter and some fundies think that magicians are Satanic. LOL BTW don''t forget that while Jesus had compassion and liked to forgive, Lawrence didn't have that when he sacked his church worker who had an extramarital affair and became pregnant as a result of it. The sacking was without just cause by law, and without compensating her entitled salary and maternity benefits by law. Shhhh I'm going to a FCBC service soon to pick up horny married women! 

Ahem, in case you don't know, the other place to pick up loose horny women is at abortion clinics - Ahem not I say one, from Kevin Smith's Dogma

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Religious men corrupted by fame and wealth

These men claiming to be messengers of God or some divine force are only getting more wayward. A man who claims to be a messenger of God refuses to pay maternity benefits to a staff who was sacked because of her extra-marital affair. But yet, Lawrence Khong of FCBC employs her daughter, Priscilla Khong, a single mother, as a pastor of the same church. Why the double standard?

And while the clerical staff is deprived of her measly $7000 in salary and maternity benefits, Lawrence Khong struts around his designer clothes and strokes his 4 ponies stabled at the Singapore Polo Club.

Till today, the clerical staff whose baby will turn 1 year-old this November, has not received a single cent from FCBC who claims to be doing this to maintain their "moral and spiritual authority". What sort of moral authority sacks a pregnant woman and withhold money that is due to them?

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St Joseph's Church priest in row with Catholic Church leaders

Father Michael Teo of St Joseph's Church said that although the stained glass panels had been taken down 11/2 years ago, 'work had stopped for a long time'and there were 'raised eyebrows and queries', especially from donors. -- ST FILE PHOTO
Father Michael Teo of St Joseph's Church said that although the stained glass panels had been taken down 11/2 years ago, 'work had stopped for a long time'and there were 'raised eyebrows and queries', especially from donors. -- ST FILE PHOTO

A veteran priest in charge of historic St Joseph's Church in Victoria Street is embroiled in a dispute with the Catholic Church leadership here over his sudden removal from his post.

Reverend Michael Teo, 76, told worshippers at a service yesterday that he had been told to go for making a police report about an ongoing project to restore century-old stained glass panels at the church.

He said he was given marching orders in an Aug 5 decree signed by Archbishop William Goh and the hierarchy's chancellor, Friar John Paul Tan, telling him to move to the Church of St Teresa on Aug 20 and wait there for his next posting.

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Priest defies Singapore Catholic church leaders over stained glass project

Reverend Father Michael Teo, rector of St. Joseph's Church on Victoria Street, who filed a police report over a stained glass project involving government money, defended his actions Tuesday as he faced removal from his Singapore parish by local church authorities. (Yahoo! file photo)

A Catholic priest who filed a police report over a stained glass project involving government money defended his actions Tuesday as he faced removal from his Singapore parish by local church authorities.

Reverend Father Michael Teo, rector of St. Joseph's Church on Victoria Street, on Tuesday evening refuted statements made by Singapore archbishop William Goh earlier that day that the former had to be removed to avoid civil suits from being filed against the church.

Teo pointed out that firing him from his post would not prevent the Commercial Affairs Department, with which he filed his police report in June, from recommending the filing of a criminal case if so warranted.

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Father Michael Teo

The Singapore rector embroiled in a row with local Catholic church leaders over a stained glass project said that he will step down from his post as ordered but that he will file an appeal with authorities in Rome.

In a statement on Saturday, St. Joseph’s Church rector Reverend Father Michael Teo said that his petition seeking the revocation of the order for his removal was rejected by Singapore archbishop William Goh in a letter Teo received on Friday. The 76-year-old priest said that he will be leaving St. Joseph’s Church, where he has been rector for the past 12 years, with “deep sorrow, disappointment and protest”.

Earlier this month, Goh ordered Teo to leave his post by noon of Tuesday, 20 August, after the reverend filed a police report with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Singapore’s white collar crime investigation agency, in June, over a stained glass project reportedly costing $1.2 million.

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Vassallomalta: Priest defies Spore Catholic church leaders over stained glass project

The difference between right and rights

A man, divorced and in his 50s, falls in love with a woman at work. She, in her late 30s, is married but desperately unhappy. She files for divorce, but before the divorce is final, has sex with her co-worker and becomes pregnant. The couple decide to keep the baby.

Adultery is not as shocking as it used to be. Indeed what made headlines this morning, splashed across the Home cover of ST, was not so much the affair, but the revelation that the woman was sacked because of it– while apparently seven months pregnant. She was not paid and was denied her maternity benefits. And even after Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin personally directed her employer to compensate her for the unfair dismissal, the employer refused.

The reason? The woman works in a church.

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Compensate woman fired for adultery, church told

FCBC senior pastor Lawrence Khong. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
It sacked pregnant employee 'without sufficient cause', says MOM

ONE of Singapore's biggest independent churches has been ordered by the Government to compensate a female church worker fired because of her alleged adulterous relationship.

The female employee at Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) had gone to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) after she was sacked last September when the church found out she was pregnant with the child of another church employee

The ministry said that it looked into the complaint and found that the woman was "dismissed without sufficient cause within six months of her delivery date". The church did not give her the salary and maternity benefits she was entitled to under the Employment Act.

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Compensate woman fired for adultery, church told

FCBC’s building in Marine Parade. Senior pastor Lawrence Khong says it will compensate the woman’s pay and maternity benefits on MOM’s orders, but will not concede that the dismissal was unjust. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
FCBC’s building in Marine Parade

The church did not give her the salary and maternity benefits she was entitled to under the Employment Act.
The Act protects an expectant mother from her fourth month of pregnancy.

If she is sacked without sufficient cause during this period, her employer must pay her maternity benefits. In this case, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin directed the church to pay her about $7,000, including maternity benefits.

The woman was understood to have been about seven months pregnant when she was sacked.

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FreeReplublic: Singapore Megachurch Ordered to Compensate Woman It Fired

Pastor sues club after suspension

Founding pastor of the Faith Community Baptist Church, Mr Lawrence Khong, 61, filed a suit and an injunction in the High Court against the Singapore Polo Club. He is seeking to overturn the club’s two-month suspension of his membership.

Mr Khong joined the SPC in the early 1990s and represented Singapore in polo in the SEA Games in 2007. He helped Singapore win a silver medal in polo.

He currently owns four ponies stabled at the club. In his affidavit, Mr Khong claims that under the suspension, he does not have access to his ponies.

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Monk sued over 'casino deal'

Businessman Chua Kwee Sin wanted to consult the head monk of the Buddhist temple at Lorong 27 Geylang regarding a proposed "oil" business.

But his meeting with the Venerable Sek Meow Di – which took place “sometime between August and October 2009” – changed everything, claimed Mr Chua in his opening statement at the High Court on Tuesday.

He claimed he parted with US$1 million (S$1.28 million) – most of it in cash – after Ven Sek convinced him to venture into a joint casino business instead.

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Hearing for lawsuit filed by businessman against Buddhist monk begins

The hearing into a lawsuit filed by a businessman against a Buddhist monk began in the High Court on Tuesday.

Businessman Chua Kwee Sin claims that he passed a sum of almost S$1.4 million in 2009 to Venerable Sek Meow Di to jointly invest in the opening of a casino in Cambodia.

Mr Chua said Venerable Sek did not proceed to open the casino according to the agreement they made. He said that he made various attempts to recover the money that he gave to Venerable Sek but has yet to receive a single cent.

City Harvest founder Kong Hee's trial resumes

Founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church (CHC) Kong Hee (right) is with his wife and co-founder of CHC, Ho Yeow Sun (left), popularly known as Sun Ho. Kong held the position of president of the CHC Management Board (CHC Board) since 1992 until he relinquished his position on 10 April 2011

Pastor and founder Kong Hee, 48, and four officers were charged last year with varying degrees of involvement in a scheme to siphon off S$24 million ($19 million) to finance the singing career of his wife, Sun Ho.

In addition, more than S$26 million in church money was allegedly misappropriated to cover up the original diversion.

Before the case was adjourned back in May, prosecutors alleged the accused channeled money allotted for the church's building into buying sham bond investments in church-linked companies so they could finance Ho's secular music career.

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