Local pastor says foreign preacher was not advised about sensitivities
Police want American preacher to return to Singapore for interview over anti-Muslim remarks he allegedly made at conference here last month
A "slip-up" resulted in a visiting Christian preacher allegedly making anti-Muslim comments, over which the police now want him to return to Singapore for an interview.
The American preacher, Mr Lou Engle, had spoken at Kingdom Invasion - a three-day mass evangelism conference organised by Cornerstone Community Church last month.
The church's senior pastor and co-founder, Mr Yang Tuck Yoong, said yesterday that in an oversight, Mr Engel had not been informed about an advisory on the racial and religious sensitivities in Singapore.
Mr Yang revealed this to reporters after he apologised to Singapore's Mufti, Dr Fatris Bakaram, and other Muslim leaders at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) for Mr Engel's comments and for inviting him here.
He added: "The person who was supposed to say this to him forgot. It was a slip-up. So we have to tighten up our processes. We realise that now we cannot make a slip-up like this."
He said that Mr Engle was read the advisory on the two previous times Cornerstone had invited him here to speak and added that the preacher will not be invited for future events.
Media website Rice reported on March 25 that Mr Engle had said at the Cornerstone event that "Muslims are taking over the south of Spain" and that he had a dream where he would "raise up the church all over Spain to push back a new modern Muslim movement".
Yesterday, the police said in a statement that Mr Engle had left Singapore shortly after the Kingdom Invasion conference, and that he has been asked to come back for an interview.
"As investigations are ongoing, we are unable to comment further," the statement added.
In 2011, Mr Engle had accused Muslims of "fuelling the demonic realm" at an event in Detroit, where more than 20,000 attendees prayed for Muslims to convert to Christianity.
He is also known for airing his anti-gay views in the US and elsewhere.
Mr Yang had previously defended Mr Engle's comments at the conference, claiming they were aimed at radical Islamic terrorism.
Asked why Mr Engle was invited to speak here despite his history, Mr Yang said he was known more for his sentiments on prayer and fasting, and that Cornerstone was not aware he had made problematic remarks before.
"We should have been more stringent in our due diligence. We should have gone back further to check a bit more on his background," he added.
Mr Yang said he had called Mr Engle on Good Friday last week and told him that "what you have said caused us a lot of problems" and that he would not be able to speak in Singapore in the future.
"He (Lou Engle) accepted it," he said.
At the Muis meeting yesterday, Mr Yang said: "We came to apologise and to make right among the communities. We understand that his statements were quite hurtful to quite a few people."
Dr Fatris said the meeting between Mr Yang and the Muslim leaders was organised after a request by Mr Yang.
He told reporters after the meeting: "(Mr Yang) expressed his sincere apologies unreservedly. And the response by the Muslim community leaders and religious leaders was that we want to move on and look forward to a more constructive and healthy relationship."
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said on Facebook yesterday that he appreciated Mr Yang's apology and for taking responsibility for Mr Engle's invite.
"Words matter, and words that sow discord and ill-will among the various communities have no place in Singapore," Dr Yaacob said.
"Our willingness to forgive reflects the Singapore way, and what is important is that we continue to uphold mutual respect and harmony for our common good."
Last September, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had denied entry to two foreign Christian preachers to speak in Singapore as they had made "denigrating and inflammatory comments of other religions" in the past.
It has also banned Muslim preachers from speaking here for segregationist and divisive teachings.