The Archbishop of Singapore has called for a Madonna concert boycott as the singer prepares for her first Rebel Heart Tour in the city-state this weekend.
As the “shepherd of his flock,” William Goh has “made representations to various Ministries and Statutory Boards to communicate the Catholic Church’s grave concerns” in a statement published by the Archdiocesan Communications Office, writes Gay Star News.
“In multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore, we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favour of artistic expression at the expense of respect for one’s religion, especially in these times of heightened religious sensitivities, particularly among active practitioners of religions,” he wrote.
Among the changes to the 57-year-old’s set list is the removal of 2015 hit ‘Holy Water’, after pressure from the Media Development Authority (MDA) gave the concert an adult R18 rating, reports The Straits Times.
“In determining the rating, MDA had carefully reviewed the proposed setlist and consulted the Arts Consultative Panel,” said a spokesperson.
“Religiously sensitive content which breached our guidelines, such as the song ‘Holy Water’, will thus not be performed in Singapore.
“The concert organiser must comply with the terms of the licence, which states that the concert should not contain content or materials which offend any race or religion, and that the performance overall must fall within the guidelines of the R18 rating.”
The song in question has featured across the European and North American Rebel Heart tour legs as a medley alongside Madonna’s 1990 hit ‘Vogue’, and sees a group of suggestively dressed nuns pole-dance on stripper poles in the shape of a cross.
Concert organiser Live Nation Lushington acknowledged the “overtly sexually explicit” and “religious content”, and said they had been working “closely with MDA on providing show, video and lyric content and the suggested set list for Singapore”.
“Minor adjustments were made to ensure R18 licensing conditions could be met without compromise to the delivery of a first-rate and world-class performance,” they said.
Goh reminded Catholics it was also their “moral obligation not to support those who denigrate and insult religions, including anti-Christian and immoral values promoted by the secular world”.
“There is no neutrality in faith; one is either for or against. Being present (at these events) in itself is a counter witness,” he said.
“Obedience to God and His commandments must come before the arts. As the people of God, we should subscribe to authentic Arts that lead us to God through the appreciation of beauty, harmony, goodness, truth and love, respect, unity and the transcendent; and not support the ‘pseudo arts’ that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography, contamination of the mind of the young, abusive freedom, individualism at the expense of the common good, vulgarity, lies and half-truths.”
Madonna is scheduled to still play the concert at the National Stadium on Saturday (February 28).