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, 20 June, 2018, 5:52pm

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.