Ex-leader: I was forced to marry woman member I did not love

The Straits Times (Singapore)/July 12, 1997
By Tan Ool Boon

A founder of the Central Christian Church said yesterday that the church had tried to match-make him with a woman member even though he had said repeatedly he was not attracted to her.

The church's leaders surrounded him and scolded him for being stubborn and proud, said Mr. Daniel Eng, 35, whom the church knew had homosexual tendencies.

He was also chastised by the church's lead evangelist John Philip Louis when he "did not spend enough time" with other woman members.

Mr. Eng, who is the key defense witness, cited these examples to support his evidence that the church controlled even the private lives of its members. He was being questioned for the first time yesterday by Mr. Louis' lawyer, Mr. Cheong Yuen Hee. Mr. Louis is suing the editors of The New Paper, Lianhe Wanbao and the Christian magazine Impact for labeling his church "a cult."

Mr. Eng said his dating game started in 1987 after he was introduced to a woman named Susan while he was visiting an affiliated church in Sydney. He liked Susan and dated her a few times. But he added: "They then replaced her with Agnes and I was supposed to date Agnes."

Susan did not tell him why she stopped seeing him but he recalled being told by church leaders that she "rejected" him. After that, they began to pressure him to date Agnes, who was his former assistant. He said: "So I gave in and I dated her. I also tried to spend time with her."

He noted that Agnes was a "good and sincere" woman but he was "just not attracted to her." He said: "They wanted me to fall in love with her. I was going out with her but I could not help it if I cannot fall in love with Agnes." The leaders then began to accuse him of being proud.

Once, after repeated refusals to marry Agnes, he said the top leaders of the church surrounded him in a circle and chastised him. He said: "They said to me 'You are proud. You don't know what love is. We have decided that she is the right one for you. Why are you so stubborn?'" He finally gave in, but the marriage fell through because Mr. Louis was "not sure whether this was a good idea."

Apart from dating and marriage, Mr. Eng also maintained that the church controlled the married members' sex lives, by determining "the position and frequency of sex."

This prompted Mr. Cheong to ask: "How does the church intend to find out whether this is carried out by the members?" Mr. Eng replied that the members were expected to tell the leaders, who watched over them.

Mr. Cheong's line of argument was that Mr. Eng had fabricated his evidence. The church, said the lawyer, did not arrange marriages or control its members' sex lives.

The hearing before Justice Warren Khoo was adjourned to Monday.

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