• Sun
  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 3:11pm
NewsHong Kong

Reverend Paul Kwong tells congregation that pro-democracy advocates should keep quiet

Outrage as Anglican archbishop invokes crucifixion during Sunday sermon to urge city's pro-democracy advocates to remain quiet

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 11:45am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 4:41am

The archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church has caused a political uproar after he said that pro-democracy advocates in the city should keep quiet, just as "Jesus remained silent" in the face of crucifixion.

Most Reverend Paul Kwong turned to politics in a sermon at St Paul's Church, Central, on Sunday, on how to be a Christian.

The sermon was posted on the church's website on Monday. Reaction has been swift, with some branding the sermon as "outrageous" and "sarcastic" and accusing Kwong of using "Jesus to fit some personal values".

In Sunday's sermon, Kwong said: "Whenever people see me or other church leaders, they will say, 'We must speak up! Speak up at all times, on everything. It is a must to fight'.

Listen: Audio translation of part of a sermon given by Archbishop of HK Anglican Church telling congregants pro-democracy advocates should keep quiet

Listen to the original audio in Cantonese here.

"Why do people have to speak up so much? [It appears] as if they wouldn't have another chance, as if they were dumb otherwise," said Kwong, who is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Kwong talked about the virtue of silence, citing how Jesus behaved when being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate. "Jesus remained silent in the face of Pilate. He was like a lamb awaiting slaughter. Sometimes we don't have to say anything. Silence is better than saying anything."

Kwong also took a sarcastic tone towards the 511 protesters who were arrested during a sit-in at Chater Road, Central, following the annual July 1 rally.

"Last week some students arrested … told reporters: 'We had no food to eat. We had to queue up for the toilet'. I would say 'why didn't they bring along their Filipino maids to the march?'"

Reverend Peter Douglas Koon, provincial secretary general of the Sheng Kung Hui, or the Anglican Church, sought to cool down the outcry in an RTHK interview yesterday.

"It is certain that the archbishop did not intend to belittle anyone. He likes to make reference to current affairs to liven up his speech," he said.

Koon said Kwong was only expressing his personal views. "He was not promoting politics or making a political speech."

Referring to the Occupy Central protests, Koon added: "The stance of the Sheng Kung Hui is that we do not encourage people to do illegal things."

Watch: What do Hongkongers think about Rev. Paul Kwong’s speech against pro-democracy advocates?

Responding to the sermon, Pastor Wu Chi-wai, from the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, said that it would be "unfair to use Jesus to fit some personal values and orientation".

"According to the Gospel of John, Jesus had challenged Pilate on whether his power is bigger or the truth is bigger," Wu said. "So Jesus wasn't silent - he spoke when he needed to, while his silence was in protest against the Roman regime."

Referring to Kwong's CPPCC role, Wu said: "I sympathise with him, it seems that he has to do something [like this] as the central government is launching a propaganda [campaign]."

Occupy Central co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man also questioned Kwong's stance.

"Believers and society expected religious leaders to speak up to manifest the value of their belief … Kwong could make people disappointed about the Anglican church," Chan said.

One Christian woman from the Sheng Kung Hui told an RTHK radio programme yesterday: "He is really outrageous. He has changed since his CPPCC appointment."

Alex Chow Yong-kang, secretary general of the Federation of Students, which organised the Chater Road sit-in, said Kwong's remarks were sarcastic but devoid of the love of a Christian.

"Is love one fundamental doctrine of Christianity?" he asked, questioning Kwong's approach.

Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing said it was disappointing that Kwong had lashed out at the students.

Meanwhile, 26 academics, including Professor Timothy O'Leary, head professor of the University of Hong Kong's School of Humanities, and Dr Mirana May Szeto, expressed their support for the students who were arrested.



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This article is now closed to comments

I don't see anyone saying opposition to OC is immoral. It's the comparison to Christ's suffering that people find offensive. He should really retract that part of his sermon and apologies, even priests can be excused for putting their foot in their mouth when they acknowledge they've made a mistake
People using Christ's name as a derogatory term is offensive. And the only people who seem to find what the Rev said is offensive mostly aren't even active church goers.
You'll need to read many of Paradox's past post to see how he describes people as immoral.
hey guys! christ does not exist! stop talking about him. might as well ask henry viii his views !
And the truth is, Gunzy- I DO feel deeply betrayed by Paul Kwok's sermon. I'm not a strenuous supporter of occupy central as you assume. I support it cautiously and have been interested in finding or forming a prayer group that could be positioned adjacent to the event - should it come to pass- that would serve as a reminder of Love and Peace in order to contribute to OC living up to its full name. Paul Kwok has truly gone wrong - deeply wrong - I feel so strongly not because everyone on the 'other side' is an enemy. But because I belong in the Anglican Church. He presided over the baptism of my children and I feel he has betrayed his sacred trust in favour of his personal political affiliation.
A church is not a building, it's the people, it's family. You have a personal connection to the Rev (I honestly don't), and yet instead of speaking to him about it personally and understanding his point of view, and voicing your objection to what he said to him, you make a spectacle of it on SCMP of all places.
You know him enough to let him baptism your children, and I'm here defending him (when I don't even know him)? Do you not see the irony in that?
Prayer group is good. Actively keeping the peace is also good.
Just remember he's a man, he's not God, he's not perfect, he's not suppose to be.
I recognize sincerity in your remarks. This feels good.
I did go to the church to discuss my feelings, incidentally. And my feelings were not surprising to the clergy with whom I conferred.
Ok no point having the debate then. But I don't think showing your face at Church for 1 hour a week makes you a good Christian and gives you some moral superiority over people who don't. I've come across so many like this in HK, who still treat their maids like **** and play sky political games at work and yet can still worship at Church with a clean conscience
I don't disagree with your description of most people who call themselves Christians. Sitting in some pew somewhere dozing off or playing video games on your phone or thinking about what they will have for lunch does not a Christian make.
Hopefully they'll realize that God sees and remember each and every moment, and will be called to task in due time.
Agreed gunzy. Back to the issue. I'm sure you can see there are devout people of all faiths on both sides of the OC debate. For a religious leader to use the cornerstone of the Christian faith to justify his own personal viewpoint and denigrate those who disagree is clearly inappropriate and is bound to offend many people. He should realize just how inflammatory his remarks were and apologize. Religious leaders are there to unite people not divide them
If I were the Rev would I have used the example of Jesus like he did? No.
His retort on the students not having food by using Domestic helpers was funny in the context of the whining of the students, still in bad taste (kinda) but he probably isn't all wrong on it either.. Given the brashness of the Cantonese language, I wouldn't be surprised if it's lost in translation in English, and thus the uproar.
I stated in an earlier comment on the comparison of MLK and Occupy Central that the only thing we do not have now is the ability to vote for our leader. "It doesn't affect our ability to speak, work, associate, worship, travel, protest, report, or confront". As it stands, this is weak social injustice IMO, and so any kind of civil disobedience should be strongly discouraged.
To be frank, if a religious man like the Rev isn't saying something that someone disagrees with, then he "ain't" doing his job. If he only delivers sermons that are nice and fluffy and "safe", what point is there to that sermon?
Those that were divided were already divided, he merely woke up the rest of the people and gave them food for thought as to were they stand.




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