Religious literacy can add to common good

Mr Lim Yan Liang has carefully indicated the responsibility of religious leaders to offer guidance to their own adherents and in imposing their own views upon others ("Agreeing to disagree in matters of religion"; last Friday).

He mentioned Anglican Professor Graham Ward, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University who delivered a series of public lectures in Singapore recently.

Prof Ward has stressed the importance of religious literacy.

There has been a resurgence of religion, and people continue to be spiritual, in spite of more secularisation.

But, at the same time, we have to deal with the negative impact of religion, as evidenced in the prevailing threat posed by right-wing religious fundamentalists and terrorism.

Prof Ward further called for the study of one's own faith, and also an understanding of the religions of fellow citizens.

This will mean more emphasis on literacy in one's religion, as well as comparative religious studies in public education.

In fact, plans are being made to organise, for the first time in tertiary education here, a major and minor in religion.

This will enhance religious literacy and advance the teaching of comparative religion in our education system.

This is particularly relevant in our multi-religious society.

Such religious education will enable people of different faiths to contribute positive moral and ethical values for the common good.

It is through such religious literacy that we can eradicate conflict between people of different religions, reinforce social cohesion and bring about peace and harmony in our society.

Yap Kim Hao (Rev Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'Religious literacy can add to common good'. Print Edition | Subscribe