On Saturday morning after the results of the Presidential election, my wife received a meme from a Christian relative that was rather controversial in its content. Basically, the meme included the picture of both Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and president-elect Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam and made the following claim:
“People of Singapore, we have selected your new President. He is fully programmed and ready to do our bidding. Long live the Globalist Anti-Christ New World Order!”
I must confess that I was really upset and troubled by this relative’s actions when I first read this message. For one, I never expected that such a message would gain traction for someone who has been a follower of Christ for many years. Even if one does not think that Mr Tharman is a suitable Presidential candidate or remains skeptical towards the Elected Presidency system, it is a separate matter to assert that Singapore’s voting system has been rigged and that our country is actually being run by some sinister global conglomerate.
As much as everyone is entitled to their opinion, I believe that it will only put the Christian community and Jesus Christ in bad light whenever believers mindlessly forward content or share information without first checking on its veracity. Regardless of whether one meant well, fact-finding is necessary, especially if the message contains statements that many others may consider as libelous or preposterous claims.
Even if such content was only circulated amongst the Christians, this particular meme is hardly edifying nor instructive. Instead, it is more likely to perpetuate anxiety amongst those who already have this tendency to buy into all sorts of anti-Christ conspiracy theories. Since Christians should speak truthfully and only what is useful in building up the faith of others (Ephesians 4:25-29) it would be so much better if this relative learnt to take heed of Apostle Paul’s teaching on avoiding foolish controversy (2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9-11).
Indeed, Christians should be the last people on earth who traffic in fake news for we are to worship and serve God who is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). It is no excuse for one to say that he or she didn’t know it was untrue. Moreover, there is neither glory nor a reward in the kingdom of God for being the first to spread any truth, let alone fake news. Thus Christians can certainly learn to be more reticent when it comes to disputable matters. On the other hand, much more is at stake whenever the reliability of the Gospel is being questioned because the integrity of the messenger of the Gospel is being undermined by one’s loose lips or quick fingers in pressing the “send” button.
Given that Christians also value integrity, it is only right that we learn to ask questions and find out the source or author of such claims before passing on the information to others. If the person does not have a good record of being trustworthy or truthful, then we should be wary of taking the bait and get suckered into promoting fake news. Furthermore, if plagiarism is frowned upon in society, then the least we could do is give “credit when it is due” and avoid giving the wrong impression that someone else came up with those ideas.
Chances are when it comes news such as the one concerning Mr Tharman, no one will take responsibility and identify himself or herself as its author. It is usually more of a case of “I receive this message from so and so, and he heard it from so and so…” and the list goes on. And therein lies the problem. If that someone can take the time to create the meme and share it with people but is reluctant to reveal one’s true identity and how he or she came to acquire such “revelatory” insights, it should already raise some red flags in our mind.
After all, if it is not a matter of protecting the “whistle-blower”, then this supposed expose of Mr Tharman being a pawn of the WEF could even have been propagated by foreign actors seeking to sow discord in our nation or hatched locally by some who have an axe to grind with the ruling party and anyone who is affiliated with them. For all we know, the person who came up with this meme may not even be genuinely concerned about the flourishing of the Christian community. Instead, in order to achieve their own political agenda, they exploit the fears that some Christians may have with regards to how ungodly values will permeate society and how our country will come to ruin if the wrong person occupies a position of power.
As Christians, we are mindful that no political system is perfect and that it is so much easier for us to find fault and criticise any individual who has availed himself for public service. But now that Mr Tharman has been successfully elected as Singapore ninth’s president, it is certainly time for us to heed the call to pray for those whom God has sovereignly placed above us (Romans 13:1, 1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Regardless of his political affiliation or lack of, personal convictions and policy decisions, we can take heart that even as an unbeliever, Mr Tharman can still be “God’s servant for our good” (Romans 13:4). If Apostle Paul could view the Roman authorities or Caesar in such a way even when the latter would hardly be considered pro-Christian or a virtuous leader, then based on his track record thus far, it seems unlikely that Mr Tharman will end up being a bane to Christians.
As we pray for Mr Tharman and the rest of the elected leaders that they will continue to govern Singapore well, let us take heart that our nation belongs to God. While God’s people humbly and lovingly seek the welfare of our city, her destiny ultimately lies in God’s hands. Even if there may be some out there who harbour ambitions to eradicate Christianity and desires to establish some clandestine new world order, their efforts will only come to nought. After all, God has already promised that the gates of hades will not prevail against the church of Christ (Matthew 16:17-19). It would be rather ludicrous that a man whose campaign symbol is a pineapple would be capable of bringing all that tumbling down.