Saturday, October 12, 2013

Association of Churches protests ban of the word ‘Allah’ in Bible

Posted on October 11, 2013, Friday

KUCHING: Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) said they found it completely unacceptable that the common practices of the churches in Sabah and Sarawak for hundreds of years are now proscribed by administrative orders and laws, ahead of the Monday ruling by the Court of Appeal on whether Christian churches can use the Arabic word “Allah”.
Its chairman the Most Reverend Datuk Bolly Lapok, Archbishop of the province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia, said the common practice indeed had been there for generations of Christians even before the very idea of Malaysia was conceived.

“What we consider to be a most serious breach of the foundational pillar pertaining to religion and religious freedom is the unrelenting assault on the right of Bumiputera Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians to the use of the Alkitab and the word “Allah” as well as the Iban-speaking Christians to refer to the Creator God,” said Bolly.

“In this regard, we are compelled to reiterate and reassert: that the word “Allah” is an integral part of, and inherent to the practice of the Christian faith by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches in Sabah and Sarawak and Christians in and from these two states,” he said.

Secondly, the Churches expect that the guarantee of religious freedom enshrined in the Federal Constitution when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form the Malaysian nation will be fully respected and honoured; and thirdly, the 10-point agreement by the Federal Cabinet on the printing, importation and distribution of the Alkitab in which the word “Allah” is an integral part of the Bahasa Malaysia Holy Scriptures and also on the practice of the Christian faith in Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches based on the Alkitab will be fully honoured, he added.

Two thirds of the churches in Malaysia consist of 1.6 million Bumiputera Christians of Sabah and Sarawak who use the Bahasa Malaysia language of worship in addition to their native languages.

“With the greatest respect to the respective authorities, whether they are the legislative, executive or judiciary, we ask that religious bigotry, racism and extremism should not be perpetuated and allowed to fester and poison our Malaysian nation.

“Specifically with regard to the use of the word “Allah”, proscribing ‘the use of the word “Allah” would turn instantly these native Bumiputera into law-breakers in the very land of which they are the sons of the soil,” he pointed out.

Bolly said: “This is abhorrent, wholly unacceptable and a flagrant betrayal of the Malaysia Agreement which guarantees the inalienable rights of non-Muslims in Sarawak and Sabah to religious freedom.

“The Bumiputera church will continue to use the Bahasa Malaysia Alkitab together with the word “Allah” both of which are fundamental to all aspects of the profession and practice of the Christian faith.”

“We acknowledge and will continue to uphold Article 3 of the Federal Constitution which provides that Islam is the religion of the Federation.

“It is carefully recorded in the constitutional documents that this provision which makes Islam the religion of the Federation for official purposes will not fetter the religious freedom of adherents of other faiths. Hence Article 3 clearly states in the same breath that all people are free to practice their religion in peace and harmony in any part of the country,” he said.

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