Worshippers were not amused with politics being part of the sermon during last Sunday's mass at the Assumption Catholic Church in Petaling Jaya. (Graphic by : Dayang Norazhar/The Mole)
For the first time in Malaysian church history, a member of the congregation stood up and told the preacher to stop his sermon.
This happened during the 11.30 am mass yesterday at the Assumption Catholic Church in Petaling Jaya.
There was the usual silence when assistant Parish Priest, Rev. Father Jean-Claude took his place at the pulpit and started his usual Sunday sermon. As in previous Sundays, the sermon was punctured with anti-establishment political messages. Seven minutes into his address, one member of the congregation stood up. Clearly agitated, the 65-year-old man waved his hands and shouted: "Enough. Please, no more political sermons on Church grounds".
Taken aback, Father Jean-Claude paused, and then continued with his sermon, minus any more reference to politics.
After the service, there was a mixed reaction from the regular worshippers to the sermon interruption.
Said a 59-year-old housewife who declined to be named: "Politics should not enter the Church. This is a place to worship God".
Some felt that if politics was to be discussed, it should not be done during mass, but at a non-religious function. Some others felt it was the duty of Christians to be active in politics, but to be fair, the congregation must be allowed to hear the views of both sides.
"A one-sided sermon does injustice just as Jesus refused to take sides," said another.
Traditionally, the Church frowns on attempts to interrupt a pastor's sermon. But the priests do face criticism, after the service.
Said a regular church-goer:"I have never heard of another case where a priest was told off in mid-sermon. Let this be a reminder to other priests who are also politically motivated"
There was a similar incident in 2007 involving the now DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok but it did not happen during the sermon but just before it. Theresa Kok gave a political ceramah at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) in Shah Alam but was rebuked by the congregation after service.