The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) did not receive information that Australian preacher Colin Stringer made any “statements of concern” during his sermon at the New Creation Church last Sunday (10 March), the MHA said in response to queries by Yahoo News Singapore.
A petition has been created to highlight Stringer’s “offensive” comments about other religions and call on authorities to ban him from preaching in Singapore. As of 8pm, it had over 280 signatures.
Jeremy Tan, who started the petition on Monday, wrote, “He has made offensive statements about religions. Also, he has voiced vehement opposition to the separation of church and state in his home country…In the interest of maintaining Singapore’s religious harmony, he should not be allowed to speak here again.”
In an email statement, MHA confirmed that Stringer was granted a Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP) to deliver the sermon in Singapore.
“An assessment was done of his past sermons, including those he had given in Singapore (when he was granted MWPs to speak here) previously,” said a ministry spokesperson.
Any foreigner who intends to deliver a talk in Singapore related to religion is required to apply for the MWP issued by the Ministry of Manpower, which will consult the relevant agencies including the MHA.
A quick online search showed that Stringer had made critical comments about other religions in a newsletter and on his blog.
In an article published in a newsletter entitled “Volume 1 No. 3” subtitled “Australia – Today’s No.1 Mission Field”, Stringer said Islam is a religion still “bent on world conquest, through the weapons of oil and immigration – a modern invasion of the west”.
He quoted a “Rick Joiner (sic)” in the article, “It is a basic doctrine of Islam to subject the world to Allah, by either conversion or by force of arms (holy war). Nations are being added to the camp of Islam while they are being lost to Christianity. Unless we throw off the humanistic yoke that would restrain us from sharing our faith with foreigners because it may infringe upon their ‘rights’, we will be in danger of losing our faith to Islam which is not so restrained.”
In an entry on his blog, Stringer wrote, “(T)he Gospel conveys the truth that there is only one way to God the Father…Not through Buddha, Islam not the New Age – but one way, Jesus.”
The two links were taken down sometime this week but their cached versions are still accessible on the internet.
The blog currently consists of a single post published on Wednesday. The post indicated that Stringer and his wife are currently in Japan “enjoying family time”.
“In their field of work, some people try to cause strife (sic) confusion and discord. Their love and respect for all people shines through in their every day (sic) lives,” it added.
Stringer spoke at the Star Performing Arts Centre as part of New Creation Church’s English services at 8.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm and 5.30pm last Sunday, according to a calendar of events on the church’s site.
Yahoo News Singapore emailed New Creation Church about Stringer’s comments on Monday and the church has yet to reply.
The MHA spokesperson said, “The organising bodies inviting foreign religious preachers, regardless of faith, are under an obligation to advise these foreign religious preachers to avoid any actions or statements that may undermine our social cohesion and racial/religious harmony.”
In March last year, American Christian preacher Lou Engle spoke at a conference in Singapore at the invitation of Cornerstone Community Church, where he made the remark about “holding back the push of the new modern Muslim movement in Spain”.
The incident prompted the MHA to investigate and the founder of the church to apologise to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
The ministry has banned or rejected the applications of some Christian and Muslim preachers over the years, as recently as 2017.