The Paranoia Over Christian Evangelism in Malaysia

Gerakan Pembela Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahya delivers his speech during the Ummah National Unity Convention at the Kuala Lumpur International Hotel August 25, 2019. Photo by Hari Anggara

The claim by Ummah chairman and Ikatan Muslim Malaysia (Isma) president Aminuddin Yahya, in his speech during the National Ummah Unity Convention last week, that there is some drive to ‘evangelise’ Putrajaya is, frankly, amazing. It’s incredible not only for the sheer bull-shittery of the content but also for what it shows about the paranoid fundamentalist mindset.

Groups like Isma seek the serenity and accord that they think accusing Christians of national schemes will provide. But people who make claims like those Aminuddin did will never be satisfied. They’re like flat-earthers for whom no amount of evidence will suffice to change their minds.

I could tell Aminuddin that I’ve been attending Christian churches and meetings for over forty years and never once have I heard anything about any scheme or plot or design to ‘place as many Christians as possible in national leadership positions’. All I ever hear are Christian leaders praying for Malaysia, for justice and good governance to prevail.

I could tell him that evangelism — the sharing of one’s faith to someone outside the religious community — is one of the weakest aspects of almost any church in the country. Christians are way better at sharing out complaints about everything wrong with the church building, the church leaders, Hollywood movies, politics, culture, food, what other ‘heretical’ Christians believe, etc. The point is, we suck at evangelism. Especially nowadays, when the average Christian prefers to spend 10 hours scrolling on his phone than 10 seconds telling non-Christians about the good news of salvation in Jesus.

So the idea that there is some grand elaborate evangelical ‘drive’ to control the country sounds even weirder than the thought that maybe Donald Trump wants to buy Malaysia.

I could ask Aminuddin where on earth he got his information from and how he knows something that almost no other Christian knows about. Perhaps, to stop all the speculation and objections, in future he should just record his conversations with his dodgy informers and upload that for the whole country to listen to. I mean, like, don’t we all want to know the truth, too?

Because failing real evidence, it just sounds like paranoia.

Paranoid groups like Isma are always complaining that someone somewhere has stole (or is about to steal) something precious to them. My precioussssss. They need to retrieve this object and thus will constantly harass this certain others to give it up, to fess up, to roll over and die.

What they cannot accept is that this ‘treasure’ was never really lost. Why? Because it never existed in anywhere by their troubled psyches.

The situation resembles Victoria’s Secret. What is the secret which, uh, belongs to Victoria? It’s the secret that there is no secret, but it’s worth believing there is. It’s the secret that people long to convince themselves there’s something more. It’s the secret that something mysterious resides in deep places and the mere appearance of a veil spurs a passion to discover and possess.

Bulls are infatuated with the color red. People are infatuated with infatuation itself. Likewise, religious bigots are fascinated with bigotry for bigotry’s sake. “How can we stop the Christianisation of Putrajaya?” is the same kind of question as, “What is Victoria hiding?” The answer is less enigmatic than the challenge of the question itself.

Victoria’s secret, in a word, is the secret of desire. And desire is produced by loss. To keep enjoying desire, one must keep producing loss.

This is the problem with fundamentalist Islam in our country: Its members long to enjoy their desires (or suffer their enjoyment, which is about the same thing) but they have to keep telling themselves they have lost something. So others need to pay for that ‘loss’ by being irrationally targeted.

That’s the open secret, isn’t it?

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.