ICC in Singapore: “Magazine article written after warning from pastors”

Central Christian Church suit. Magazine article written after warning from pastors

The Straits Times (Singapore), 10 July 1997.
By Tan Ool Boon

A writer said she contributed her article about the Central Christian Church to a Christian magazine after hearing pastors warning their congregations publicly about the church, the High Court heard yesterday.

Madam Mary Yeo, 40, also the executive editor of the magazine Impact in 1991, said the story was published because the magazine took the concerns of pastors and Christian leaders seriously. She was testifying in defense of the editor of her magazine, Mr. Andrew Goh, who is being sued by the church for labeling it a cult. Her report, “AOG and CCC — They are not what you think,” was also used by The New Paper (TNP) as a source for a similar story published in November 1991. The church is also suing the TNP editor, Mr. P. N. Balji.

Madam Yeo, who now lives in the U.S. with her husband, testified live via a video-link from Chicago, Illinois, yesterday as she is due to deliver her baby next week. She said she first heard about the Central Christian Church in early 1990 after a friend of hers was invited to the church’s meeting. Madam Yeo said her friend told her that the meeting was a little “weird.” “People would stand on a chair and shout.”

She added that her friend had felt uncomfortable because those at the church meeting seemed “so unreal, like they were in a daze.” Madam Yeo learned later that the church was one of the two Christian groups “causing concern” at the National University of Singapore. She also heard two pastors telling their members to be vigilant when approached by such groups. That was when she began to discuss the story with Mr. Goh, her editor.

She said she managed to speak to three former church members who described their church’s practices to her, including one that used guilt to control members, plus the church’s claim of being the only true church here. She also conducted her research using materials written by the Rev. Adrian van Leen, an expert in cult studies who is based in Perth, Australia.

Yesterday, Mr. Cheong Yuen Hee, acting for the church, asked her whether she had made any attempt to contact the church leaders before her article was published. She did, she said, but no one took her calls.

She went ahead with her article because she had gathered enough information to write a fair report, she said.

Hearing continues today.

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