John Chew, Retired Archbishop of Singaporean Anglican Diocese, Talks about “Tolerance”at Boao Forum

By Yi Yang, April 18, 2018 01:04 AM

Revd Dr John Chew Hiang Chea(Boao Forum for Asia )

Religious leaders' conference.(Boao Forum for Asia)

The 17th annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia(BFA) was held in south China's Hainan Province on April 8-11, 2018, attended by over 2,000 people from all over the world. 

Bishop John Chew Hiang Chea, the retired 8th archbishop of the Singaporean Anglican Diocese, spoke at the session on "Religious Leaders Dialogue" during the "Asian Davos" on behalf of Christianity. 

Shi Yinshun, a Chinese Buddhist monk who serves as vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, and Master Zhang Gaocheng, a Daoist priest who works as vice president of the Chinese Taoist Association also talked about their views in the dialogue.

According to the official website of BFA, Bishop John Chew said that he joined in a religious session at the World Economic Forum in Davos over a decade ago. He urged that in addition to contributing to economy and culture, Asia should enhance its religious cultures and learn from other religions.

Concerning tolerance, the bishop held that tolerance has different levels. To some extent, a kind of tolerance meant that we have to accept other people; but another kind of tolerance was biblical and seen as a responsibility. We should tolerate everyone regardless of gender or background because God created human beings who are different and this was His justice. He pointed out that it is not easy to talk about tolerance in Singapore with religious conflicts, but we should speak out. One of the best things to do is to encourage every religious community to return to the essence of classics because religions were politicized and radicalized in history.

Questioned about how to lead people to faith and correct their misconceptions of religions in a press conference, Bishop Chew replied that many religions were simple when they started, but the nature of belief might not be directly related to society with the social development. Since the younger generation also cared about how religious people combined faith with life, the appropriate way should be to restore religions to their original intentions. 

Asked to share Singapore's successful experiences of the integration of religions, Bishop Zhou said that the country took a lot of pains to create the current religious environment and still keep integrating the existing religions.

Bishop John Chew majored in Government & Public Administration and International Politics at Nanyang University and later obtained his Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University. He worked as of Principal of Trinity Theological College, Singapore in 1991-99 and served as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore between 2000-12. From 2006-12, he held the post of Archbishop of the Anglican Province of SE Asia. He was instrumental in forging strategic links in theological education between Singapore and regions including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

In recent years, he has actively engaged in a close reading of the fundamental texts of the Bible and explained "The 'Sinai Encounter' and Implications for Civilizations and Faiths" across the ancient civilization corridor of China, Southeast Asia, and Egypt.

Since the 1990s, he has been committed to building a relationship between the churches in China and Singapore and a bridge of friendship between the churches in China, Southeast Asia, and Africa.  

- Translated by Karen Luo

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