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Christians are 18.3% in S’pore, Buddhist numbers fell by 9.2%

Prosperity gospel very big movement

Christianity in Asia is estimated to be growing 10 times faster than in Europe. One of Asia’s most profitable churches is Singapore’s City Harvest.

The City Harvest megachurch in Singapore is super rich because it collects one-tenth of the monthly salaries of its more than 20,000 congregation. The evangelistas practice what is called the “prosperity gospel” (i.e. wealth-affirming credo). They intend to turn Singapore into a hub for evangelical Christianity.

City Harvest evangelistas have already established several affiliate churches in Malaysia with the main one being in Subang Jaya.

BELOW: Oh look, Mama Dapster is on stage at the Subang Jaya City Harvest church

It looks like Hannah Yeoh on stage during Subang Jaya City Harvest Church building launch

Evangelical churches are a lucrative business model. The New Creation church in Singapore – which has a congregation of 30,000 – in 2012 collected S$75.5 million (RM194.4 million) in tithes while City Harvest took in S$38.6 million (RM99.4 million) in 2009.

Note: Tithing is the donation of 10 percent of income to the church

These evangelistas will employ whatever (methods) it takes to hook young, working singles, such as providing pop-rock music in their lively services and using dynamic social media to the max.

In fact, the New Creation church even holds its worship in the Star Performing Arts Centre.

Worshippers attend a church service at the City Harvest Church in Singapore
City Harvest Church in Singapore on 1 March 2014 / Photo: Reuters

“Our Allah”? …  In Jerusubang, if the Christians are allowed to use the word

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Below is the full story titled ‘Singapore’s megachurches move to export lucrative religion‘ copypasted from Reuters. It is datelined 6 March 2014 and written by Laura Philomin.

PIX ABOVE: Worshippers attend a church service at the City Harvest Church in Singapore March 1, 2014. With a ”prosperity gospel” that blends the spiritual and the material, City Harvest and other Pentecostal megachurches in the wealthy Asian city-state have perfected a popular and lucrative model. Now they are working to export it to the world and turn Singapore into a hub for evangelical Christianity. Picture taken March 1, 2014.

Photos below credited to Reuters/Edgar Su

Worshippers attend a church service at the City Harvest Church in Singapore
Worshippers attend a church service at the City Harvest Church in Singapore

(Reuters) – “God is here, God is here,” croons Singapore church official Sun Ho as she struts across a neon-lit stage and thousands of people in the congregation pump their hands and sing along.

Kong Hee, the church’s founding pastor and Sun Ho’s husband, then takes the stage. In keeping with the electrifying mood, he invites his followers to speak “in tongues” and a pulsing murmur echoes through the auditorium of 8,000 people.

During the service, ushers hand out envelopes for donations, which consume at least a tenth of the salaries of most church members, going to fund different ministries, mission trips and special events.

Welcome to one of Asia’s most profitable churches: Singapore’s City Harvest.

With a “prosperity gospel” that blends the spiritual and the material, City Harvest and other Pentecostal megachurches in the wealthy Asian city-state have perfected a popular and lucrative model.

Now they are working to export it to the world and turn Singapore into a hub for evangelical Christianity.

“We want to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth,” said Pastor Bobby Chaw, City Harvest’s missions director.

Evangelizing missions by City Harvest, including pop concerts by Sun Ho in China, Taiwan and the United States, have helped it gather followers across Asia and set up 49 affiliate churches in Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and India.

City Harvest – whose founder faces trial, along with five others, on charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts over the use of nearly S$51 million ($40.2 million) in church funds – also has a bible college that trains church leaders from countries such as Norway, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.

Last year the founding pastor of another Singapore megachurch, New Creation’s Joseph Prince, toured the United States, preaching to a sell-out crowd at Long Beach Arena in Los Angeles and filling the country’s largest church, Lakewood in Texas.

Prince’s book The Power of Right Believing made it to number two on the New York Times‘ bestseller list in the advice and “how to” category.

Worshippers attend a church service at the City Harvest Church in Singapore
Rev Kong Hee has the sheeple in a rapture


Asia is a growth market for Christianity, with the religion estimated to be growing 10 times faster than in Europe, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

While the idea of megachurches originated in the United States, some of the largest are in Asia, notably South Korea’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, with about 1 million members.

Packaging the traditional biblical message into a more dynamic format of pop-rock music, lively services and social media has lured a new generation of followers and turned the churches into major enterprises.

New Creation, which says it has a congregation of 30,000, collected S$75.5 million in tithes in 2012, while City Harvest took in S$38.6 million in 2009, accounts filed with Singapore’s Commissioner of Charities show.

“Whatever method that can most effectively convey the message to our generation, we will do it,” said Chaw, who is also the vice chairman of City Harvest’s management board.

City Harvest, which says its congregation numbered nearly 20,000 in 2012, with about 62 percent single, ventured into the entertainment industry after seeing how enthusiastically Chinese-speaking youth in Asia responded to Mandarin pop music from Taiwan.

The church’s Crossover Project led Sun Ho to collaborate with Asian stars such as Jay Chou and she broke into the U.S. market under the guidance of producer David Foster, producer-songwriter Wyclef Jean and other veterans.

With a wealth-affirming model and efforts to engage the young, fast-growing Pentecostal megachurches have helped to dilute Buddhism as Singapore’s traditionally dominant religion.

The most recent census showed the proportion of Christians rose 18.3 percent in 2010 from 14.6 percent in 2000, while the number of Buddhists fell to 33.3 percent from 42.5 percent.

Rolland Teo, 25, whose family is Buddhist, said his view of religion as “very static” changed when he joined City Harvest.

“It was something more dynamic, more relational,” Teo said. “This was something I couldn’t find in my parents’ beliefs.”

But allegations of corruption have accompanied success.

City Harvest’s Crossover Project is at the centre of charges that Kong and five other officials financed his wife’s singing career by funneling church funds of S$24 million into sham investments and then used S$26.6 million more to cover up the deals.

Kong and the others deny the charges. Kong’s wife is not on trial and has resumed her executive duties at the church.

In South Korea, David Yong-gi Cho, Kong’s spiritual mentor and founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church, was recently found guilty of embezzling $14 million in church donations to buy stocks owned by his son, at four times their market value.

Evangelical churches catering to modern Chinese are filled with song and dance


Megachurches dismiss accusations of being wealth-obsessed, although Chaw has said that “prosperity is a byproduct of obeying God’s commandments”.

Critics say wealth is not necessarily a bad thing but they decry selfish enrichment at the expense of helping others.

“The prosperity gospel is a very big movement, a very visible movement, that doesn’t represent what I believe to be biblical Christianity,” said Paul Choo, founding pastor at Gospel Light Christian Church.

But a growing number of people in Singapore have found an affinity with the megachurch doctrine of faith entwined with wealth and personal well-being.

“That’s quite attractive to many socially mobile Singaporeans who, in going up the class strata, do look for some moral bearings,” said Terence Chong, a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Tithing – the donation of 10 percent of income to the church – is assumed by some to be a way of “buying” God’s love. But New Creation member Jared Asalli and others say it is a way of thanking God.

Either way, the practice helps swell megachurch coffers.

City Harvest raised S$22.7 million with its Building Fund Campaign, helping it to buy a stake of 39.2 percent in the venue for its services, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, for S$97.8 million in 2012.

New Creation’s Miracle Seed event raised S$21 million in one day, contributing to the S$348 million it spent on building the 5,000-seat Star Performing Arts Centre, one of four venues where it holds services.

“I don’t think there’s been any era as materialistic as this one,” said Choo of Gospel Light Christian Church. “If it promises wealth, it will have some ready audience.”


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14 thoughts on “Christians are 18.3% in S’pore, Buddhist numbers fell by 9.2%

  1. Helen,

    Jesus Christ has warned about churches like this.

    Also, from my conversations with Buddhists and Taoists who have converted especially to evangelical Christianity, most have not had a sound grounding in Buddhist teachings and philosophy but just superficially practice rituals and worship deities which are not part of the original Buddhist teachings but are cultural imports introduced into local Buddhist practices which due to Buddhism’s liberal and tolerant nature, does not prevent such imports.

    Thus they do not understand nor can benefit spiritually from the true teachings of the Buddha.

    Nowhere in the teachings of the Buddha (the Dhamma) are there buddha statues, four-faced Brahma, joss sticks, god of this, god of that, other paraphenalia and rituals, etc. Instead, there is the Five Precepts, Eight Precepts, morality, right thought, right actions, right speech, control of senses, study of the teachings, meditation and the development of wisdom and a striving to attain enlightenment.

    I’m sure Buddha would strongly object to what passes as “Buddhism” today, just as Christ would of what passes as “Christianity” today.

    The best way for Buddhists to counter the lure of the evangelists is to study the original teachings of the Buddha and practice it with sincerity in their daily lives.

    It’s also is the responsibility of Buddhist parents to ensure their children are taught the core teachings of the Buddha, which are all centred around the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Noble Path.

    Sila, Samadhi & Panna. (Moriality, Meditation & Wisdom)

    I’m glad to have had The Late Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhamananda as my spiritual teacher.

    1. re: “the development of wisdom”

      So true. I wish that the feral Jerusubang evangelistas have the capacity to cultivate this in particular. Unfortunately from what I see, they don’t. That’s why they are so misguidedly ferocious in their actions against the Muslims who are the majority in this land.

      As for the Muslims, I hope you can see and understand why attempting to shut down Chinese schools can have the opposite effect to what you desire.

      SRJK(C)s have a legacy of Chinese tradition. Evangelistas do not belong to the Chinese tradition. On the contrary, they have rejected and jettisoned their forefathers’ Confucianist heritage.

      You put the contemptuous and bullying children from the evangelista families wholesale in Sekolah Kebangsaan (1Sekolah concept) and what do you think these aggressive kids will do to the Malay kids?

      1. ‘the Muslims who are the majority in this land’ are still practising berSila, send their loved ones to berSemadi and at times caught terPanna with objects of beauty and words of wisdom.

        The Malays of this land also knows that the Northerners and the Southerners in China does not speak the same language. Apparently in Malaysia, the Southerners are speaking Mandarin, wholesale. China could have never been so proud.

        Perhaps Dong Zong and Hua Zong would want to branch out in Hong Kong to teach the locals there a thing or two of Mandarin sebagai Bahasa Penyatuan, A Malaysia Experience?

  2. Pastor Ted Nottingham offers a special presentation on key passages of the GOSPEL OF THOMAS, considered to be have been written earlier than the four Gospels of the New Testament and indeed is the source material for them. In these sayings of Jesus, lost to the world for 2000 years, we find a depth of wisdom and spiritual self-knowledge (gnosis) that is utterly transformational to those who would meditate on them and apply them to their inner lives.

    “The Lost Gospel of Thomas:
    The Original Mystical Teachings of Yeshua or Jesus the Messiah.”


    “We have come from the Light . . . . for you have come from it and you will return there again.” (Saying 49,51)

  3. They seem like cargo cultists.

    A cargo cult is a kind of Melanesian millenarian movement encompassing a diverse range of practices and occurring in the wake of contact with the commercial networks of colonizing societies. The name derives from the apparent belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth (“cargo”).

    Cargo cults often develop during a combination of crises. Under conditions of social stress, such a movement may form under the leadership of a charismatic figure. This leader may have a “vision” (or “myth-dream”) of the future, often linked to an ancestral efficacy thought to be recoverable by a return to traditional morality. This leader may characterize the present state (often imposed by colonial capitalist regimes) as a dismantling of the old social order, meaning that social hierarchy and ego boundaries have been broken down.

    What do you think, Helen?

    1. Wrt to the Jerusubang cultists, I believe the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ description is apt. Their High Priestess gave herself a 300 percent pay hike and bought herself the car below, upgrading from her old Hyundai Getz in the pre-politics days.

      What motivates them (the DAP evangelista carpetbaggers) is pure GREED.


      1. ‘What motivates them (the DAP evangelista carpetbaggers) is pure GREED.’

        Damn right.

  4. The Ultraman ban perhaps is because of the Allah word. What is wrong with this people (the publisher), can they just leave the Allah word alone?

    “Within hours of the book’s ban, a Twitter user uploaded an alleged page of the comic that is shown to use the Arabic word for God to describe a specific Ultraman, according to The Malay Mail Online.

    The dialogue on the page read: “Beliau dianggap sebagai, dan dihormati sebagai, ‘Allah’ atau Elder semua wira Ultra,”, says the online newspaper, which in English translates to: “He is considered, and respected as, ‘Allah’ or the Elder to all Ultra heroes.”

    The problem with this people is that they want to find all sorts of ways to get people excited. Can we have some children’s book with NO controversy?

  5. And our favourite hen has just come up with her latest “I am a victim” cry.
    “Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (pix) fears that other politicians will be victimised if threats that she has been receiving is not taken seriously by authorities.”

    Oh please lah. In the first place who asked her to come with a video that will make people uneasy. Other politicians will be victimised? Like who?

    Why our loving Christian brother Nga Kor Ming bitching about Ms Chew?

    So this is good Christianity? Would Jesus practice such Christianity?

  6. You might find this interesting

    On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[c]? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[d]”

  7. Madame Speaker is entitled to a save & comfortable car for herself & family. The reward for being hardworking.

    1. Hannah worked hard. She need to save for the comfortable family car as soon as possible so she gave herself a three-fold increase in monthly wages. She is a capable woman who knows how to reward hardworking family people handsomely.

      Eduard, the rest of us are waiting in anticipation for the madam to speak up for ordinary family people.

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