In February of this year, a member of the ruling political party in Malaysia, Barisan Nasional (BN), came under scrutiny after claiming that Christians had spread lies about the Malaysian government from the pulpit. He was quoted by the news source, The Malaysian Insight, and he added that sermons in Malaysian churches often include many things that are false.
Christians around Malaysia were outraged at the politician’s comments and demanded an apology. Christian leaders called the comments unfounded, saying that his remarks question the spiritual integrity of Malaysia’s Christian minority. Non-Christians also criticized his choice of words and let their opinions be known on social media. The politician later said he regretted that his comments were taken the wrong way and insisted that he was referring to all religions in his speech.
This is not the first time that religion has been used to undermine opposing views in Malaysia’s political scene. This month, members of other political parties have spoken out after being slandered by the ruling BN party. A publicity secretary for the Democratic Action Party was falsely accused on social media as being anti-Islam and anti-Malay. A Malaysian MP was also quoted by Malay Mail Online saying that she, too, had been accused by the BP party of calling for all mosques to be torn down and replaced with churches.
These types of tactics are frequently used in Malaysian politics to instill fear in the Malay community and propagate the idea that the Malay culture and religion need safeguarding. The BP is well known for these types of political maneuvers during critical election times in order to ensure they have the majority vote, or the Malay vote. Often the religious minorities, especially Christians, get caught up in political crossfire as some politicians attempt to incite the fear that Christianity and other religions are replacing Islam.
Christian politicians and Malaysia’s churches are often forced to defend themselves and their faith against these types of false claims. This can be quite discouraging and frustrating since Christians make up only about four percent of Malaysia’s population. The church needs grace in order to respond to these pressures in a Christ-like manner, taking every opportunity to be a gospel witness.
Pray with us for the church in Malaysia and for Christian politicians who are constantly scrutinized. Pray that Malaysian believers might have humble and gracious hearts toward those who slander them. Pray for their reactions to be a testimony of true faith in God.
Persecution in Malaysia often comes from political or social pressure. Pray for the church to know how to best respond to this type of persecution. Pray for Jesus to be exalted among all the peoples of Malaysia.