Overthinking It

Making Sense of the Moral Outrage over CHC Trial

The verdict of City Harvest Church appeal is in and the people are angry. Many people are thinking wtf; not only were they not given higher sentences, they were given discounts. Mothership brought up succinctly the Justices’ explanation of the reduced jail terms. It helped us to understand the legal justification of what people felt was a bizarre judgement.

Calvin Cheng encouraged all who are angry to read the article and seemed to insinuate that there is a certain irrationality over heightened emotions. We don’t disagree with him entirely but we would like to offer some explanations.

It’s easy to think that mass outrage originates from mob mentality but it’s also indicative that there’s a common agreement on what’s right or wrong among the majority, and that makes it worthy for discussion.

So why are people angry? Let’s examine some points.

  1. It’s a religious organization

Face it. We won’t be that angry if it’s just another fraud case involving a company. Religious leaders are held to a higher standard and let’s not deny that many donated to CHC because of a certain emotional appeal. It’s not like investing in a company and you’ve calculated the risk of losing your money. You don’t expect your pastor to cheat you of your money.

  1. The leaders did not receive any personal gains and they acted in what they believed were the best interests of the church?

Hmmm… What does it mean by personal gain? I guess the judges think that the leaders did not pocket any money for themselves. But they channelled the money to boost Sun Ho’s career, no? In that case, isn’t there some kind of personal benefit? And it seems that “acting in the best interest of the organisation” is a mitigating factor. So say, I’m a terrorist and I plan to bomb a place to promote my religion but I did not gain any money from it. So, my sentence can be cut short? I guess not.

  1. The amount involved is huge, the leaders have fooled the congregation for a long time and the case has wasted much public resources

Leaders who lied make people angry. Leaders who lied for a very long time make people even angrier. It’s not a mistake committed on impulse, it was deliberately calibrated to mislead the congregation. The trial began in 2010 and it took 7 years before the final verdict is passed and then the leaders were finally sent to jail.

  1. The leaders did not show any remorse

I think anyone would be grateful to have their sentence reduced so let’s not blame the leaders for feeling glad that they have their sentence reduced. But, was there an apology? NO. There were many ‘thanks’ made to the Almighty but no ‘sorry’ for the people who were fooled.

Strangely, while the blood of non-CHC members were boiling, there were many in the Church who gave unwavering support to their leaders (apparently long prayers and fasting).

I suppose this is freedom of beliefs and perhaps this is faith ultimately. I guess it’s not that strange after all that it’s the non-CHC members who were most angry.


  1. Jay

    Point 4 is BS. There are multiple articles of videos stating the leadership ‘s apologetic standpoint

  2. JJ

    Bad idea to use the terrorist analogy.

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