Proselytisation is a fact of life in Malaysia.
Article 3 and the practices of first prime minister Abdul Rahman has crippled us from having a reasonable discussion about it. There is a race to win our souls for an impatient god.
It’s intrusive and blatant – and the children are not spared from it.
Little is mentioned by way of para four of the article which states “ Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution”.
So things like privacy, freedom from discrimination and the right to raise our kids they way we want to within the perimeters of law, have to be protected. Alas they are not.
The fear of proselytisation is one of the major reasons why many parents have kept their children from national schools.
Through my own schooling years I saw the increased emphasis on religion – actually the transfer of emphasis.
In my early years in primary school, there was catechism in school – so the heathens have a chance to become good Christians.
There were even comics geared to good Christian living. Archie for instance, which would shock most Malaysians, probably drive parents to destroy copies in their homes now.
So it was Christianity to Islam, and no one noticing that they were playing with the psychological well-being of young children.
What answer do you expect from a nine year old if you ask him if he would like to attend catechism along with his other friends in a missionary school?
Lectured to bits
While in graduate school class with wholly religious school teachers – and it being a catholic university – an elderly man who used to teach in many missionary schools in Malaysia shared his experience.
He said he understood why one of his principals was aggressively converting the young boys into the faith, because it was a good he was doing.
That really riled me up. I got the whole class numb, when I had a real go at him.
I said: You can’t do that to children. Their parents send them to you, in good faith. If you want to engage an eighteen-year-old on the virtues of accepting salvation, then go ahead.
We don’t allow nine year olds to pick many things – like what school to attend, who to get a ride home from or even participate in sexual experiences with adults even if they consent.
The principle is, they are not old enough to understand the consequence and be responsible enough for their decisions.
Then why is it ok to proselytise to them?
Because the average nine year old will have a complex theoretical framework of his or her existence in terms of purpose?
Faith is after all, at the core of it seeking purpose.
Why can’t they keep school to universals, and make a conscious choice to steer away from the ecclesiastical?