Updated: July 29, 2021 05:14 AM GMT
Students leave the River Valley High School in Singapore on July 19 after a 13-year-old boy was found dead on the premises with multiple wounds and a fellow student was arrested. (Photo: AFP)
An evangelical pastor in Singapore is facing a social media backlash for his comments on the recent murder of a teenage student by a senior classmate.
The controversy followed a discussion between a woman named Inez and senior pastor Jason Lim of the Singapore Gospel Light Church on the church’s Instagram page, reported Coconuts Singapore.
They were discussing a 16-year-old student using an axe to murder a 13-year-old student in a toilet at River Valley High School on July 19.
When Inez asked the pastor how the tragedy highlighted society’s broken systems, Lim replied: “Yes, but the problem is that of sin foremostly, not lack of student mental health awareness or better safety protocols. Students with mental health issues like this boy need special help, but what their soul needs is still Christ.”
Mental health awareness and safety can “treat the symptoms of sin and not the problem,” he said.
The discussion was heavily ridiculed by netizens on social media sites, prompting the church to delete the messages. Social media users termed the pastor's comments “shocking, disrespectful and hurtful.”
Absolutely no room to get all evangelical at this and yet the church somehow found a way to exploit the situation
“It’s unconscionable that they’re capitalizing on this to reveal some sort of innate 'wisdom' their pastors possess,” Wali Khan tweeted. “What really irks me is the subtext: if only the murderer believed in Christ, none of this would have happened!”
On social media site Reddit, users also slammed the pastor and the church for allegedly exploiting the murder to evangelize.
“Absolutely no room to get all evangelical at this and yet the church somehow found a way to exploit the situation. The devil works hard, but this guy obviously works harder,” wrote Bunbunbunch.
The Singapore Gospel Light Church did not respond when UCA News emailed to get a response over the controversy.
Following the murder, police detained the suspect and seized the axe believed to be the murder weapon. The suspected killer was reportedly admitted to a mental health institute following a suicide attempt in 2019.
Singaporeans were reportedly astonished when Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said a primary probe had found the suspect bought the axe online.
The tragedy sparked intense discussion about the state of mental well-being of youths and adults in Singapore, with some people questioning how the accused was able to buy an axe online.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said the ministry would work closely with police on the investigation and promised to make efforts to improve safety in schools and tackle students' mental health problems.
One in seven people in Singapore has experienced a mental disorder and more than three-quarters did not seek any professional help, according to the Singapore Mental Health Study in 2016.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for youths and 71 people aged 20-29 took their own lives in 2019, Channel News Asia reported last year.