Malaysian Government Discourages Mention of Jesus in Carols

The Malaysian government wants references to Christ to be removed from carols when it hosts an open house reception on Dec. 25, a news agency reported.

According to the UK-based Guardian, it has "strongly encouraged" organizers not to include references to Jesus Christ and has made it known it would be preferable if all references to religion were removed.

In response, Christian co-host, the Anglican diocese of West Malaysia, has asked for volunteers for the event to play Father Christmas and Santarina rather than traditional roles in a nativity play.

The Guardian reports that many lay Christians have been disappointed with their leaders submission to the government. In a letter to news website Malaysiakini, one person said, "If Christian leaders do not speak up for Jesus without fear, whom else can we expect to do so?"

Currently, of Malaysia's population of 23 million, 58-percent are Muslim, 21.6-percent are Buddhist, 9.2-percent are Christian, and 5-percent are Hindu.

Generally religion is divided along ethnic lines, with a significant Buddhist Chinese population as well as Hindu Indians. The government considers Islam to be an essential part of the ethnic Malay identity and all ethnic Malays are legally considered Muslims.