Malaysian Church Leaders Speak Out Against Proposed New Laws.

In Malaysia, Christian leaders of all denominations have slammed a bill that would increase punishments for hudud crimes by the Islamic courts, in accordance to Sharia (Islamic law).

The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM), which includes Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans and Protestants, appealed to lawmakers to reject the draft proposal in an open letter released last Saturday.

Hudud crimes include robbery, apostasy, sexual crimes, drinking alcohol, and gambling. The bill before parliament would change the Sharia Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 335) of 1965, which regulates the jurisdiction of Islamic courts.

At the moment, these courts, which have jurisdiction only over Muslims, can impose prison terms of up to three years, corporal punishment, up to six lashes, and fines of up to 5,000 ringgits (US$1,200).

Under the proposed changes, all restrictions would be lifted in the case of hudud crimes, with the exception of those involving capital punishment. In addition, lawmakers would be able to decide new punishable crimes under Sharia.

In its letter, the CCM warns that “MPs should view with great concern, even alarm the proposed private member’s bill by Parti Islam Malaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang [who wants] to enhance the criminal jurisdiction of Sharia courts. The MPs should not take the proposal lightly.”

Rev. Hermen Shashtri says that the bill would “rewrite the Constitution in a radical way,” and noted that lawmakers “were elected by the people to ensure the integrity of the Federal Constitution, which protects fundamental rights and freedoms”.

The Constitution, according to the Rev. Sashtri, is clear. It lays out the principle that religion concerns mainly personal and family issues, and that criminal law must be under federal legislation.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has also raised concerns over  the proposed changes, asking lawmakers to vote against the law bill as unconstitutional.

  • Pray for the Malay Government as it considers these proposed law changes. Pray that they will keep freedom of religion and belief as a priority, and vote against bringing in these changes.
  • Pray for Christians in Malaysia, for strong faith, unity and peace.
  • Pray for Malaysia, a constitutionally secular nation but very much under the influence of Islam. Pray for many in this nation to encounter Christ Jesus in life changing ways and come to know Him as Lord and Saviour.

Ephesians 6 vs 12: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.


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