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Author cited in Focus on the Family Singapore pamphlet responds to controversy

AsiaOne | Friday, Oct 10, 2014

Focus on the Family defends relationship workshop, says most students rated it well

By Pearl Lee

Focus on the Family Singapore has issued a stout defence of its relationship workshop, saying it has received positive feedback from most of the students attending the programme since it was launched last year.


Get the full story from The Straits Times.

SINGAPORE - The author of a book that was used during a relationship workshop conducted by Focus on the Family Singapore has responded to recent backlash regarding her citations used in the programme's pamphlets.

In the open letter addressed to the leaders of the charity, the author, Shaunti Feldhahn, said she and her husband, Jeff, were asked by the then Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) to conduct relationship programmes back in 2009 for "several thousand" young professionals and college students, marriage and family leaders as well as counsellors.

"In 2009, the government agency then known as MCYS brought in me and Jeff to conduct programs for several thousand young professional singles and college students, as well as train-the-trainer sessions for several hundred leaders and counselors who work in the marriage and family arena," Ms Feldhahn wrote.

Focus on the Family Singapore, a pro-family Christian charity, had adapted content from these two books and used it in four pages of its own booklet, according to The Straits Times.

These four pages were then openly criticised by Hwa Chong Institution student Agatha Tan on her Facebook page after she attend the Focus on the Family Singapore workshop at her school last Friday. She felt the booklet emphasised gender stereotypes, The Straits Times reported.

Ms Feldhahn acknowledged Agatha's criticism through her letter posted on her personal website by stating that her "research can also be misunderstood, as demonstrated by the Facebook post from Agatha Tan."

On Thursday, The Straits Times reported that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will cease the programme by Focus on the Family Singapore by the end of this year.

An MOE spokesman stated that the workshop on relationships is not in line with the ministry's sexuality education programme. This is in spite of MOE's approval for Focus on the Family Singapore to run sexuality education programmes in school.

Agatha's letter had also spurred a group of Hwa Chong alumni as well as current students to start a petition calling on the institution to end the workshop immediately, according to The Straits Times.

Ms Feldhahn, however, urged the leaders of Focus on the Family Singapore to engage the government on this decision to discontinue the workshop.

She said: "I hope that you and the government officials involved do not give up on something that already has, and will continue to, set a great foundation for Singapore's future."

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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