It’s called The Star. It’s an “integrated experience” near the Buona Vista MRT station in Singapore. The Star is a combination church and mall. Now, I know you’re probably laughing right now, but, remember, this is Singapore. I went to the Star Vista (the mall arm of the “integrated experience”) without knowing exactly what it was. I thought it was a regular mall, and it had regular stores and restaurants (although no Starbucks – that should have tipped me off that something was amiss). It has a kind of awkward set up, but it’s a nice mall.
As I was walking through the mall with some friends, I started to notice a commonality between all the shops; every shop carried some form of Christian religious article on its sales floor. Whether is was a small section of the tchotchke store with cross-shaped key chains, or whole stores that didn’t try to hide their religious affiliation (like the shoe store Arch Angel), every store had some kind of religious section or product. This was not true for the restaurants, mind you. There weren’t any religious-themed dishes on the menus or holy water shakes.
After the strange visit, I did a little research and found out that The Star is actually a joint venture by a company called CapitaMalls, which owns a lot of malls all over Asia and the New Creation Church. CapitaMalls operates the lower levels (The Star Vista) and the NCC operates the higher levels with a 5000 person auditorium (which they use for their Sunday services) and the church offices. I knew it was just a matter of time before some church opened a mall! Now it’s been done!
I don’t know if the stores are required to carry Christian products, or if they do so because they know their clientele, but every, single one had some kind of religious article on sale. This really disturbs me when religious organizations masquerade as other things in an attempt to increase their numbers (perhaps this is why Christian rock music annoys me as well). I am an atheist, I do not believe in anything but myself, and having Jesus and religion shoved down my throat IN A MALL not only annoys me, it actually infuriates me. I have no problem with people who believe in god, or who worship every Sunday, but don’t try to make me do it as well. Like I said, I’m not certain, however, if the stores are required to carry religious articles or if they do so because they know the people that will be walking through the mall are predominantly there for the church. But it still disturbs me that stores, which are supposed to be secular, kowtow to religious organizations. Don’t get me started on the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and their religious views over the welfare of their employees (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burwell_v._Hobby_Lobby)!!
The Star Vista is an abomination. It’s an excuse for a church to further its cause and to make money. I’m sure the proceeds from the rents and portions of the profits from each store are shared by the NCC and CapitaMalls. It’s disgusting that a church will stoop so low as to pass itself off as a mall, with stores that subliminally push you towards religion with their sales of religious articles and religious displays! Religious zealots are sometimes worse than drug dealers. At least drug dealers know they’re promoting addiction and crazed behavior!