What are religious leaders doing to promote pluralism?

I applaud Dr Yap Kim Hao's call for "religious pluralism" ( Need for those who can teach religious pluralism; April 11).

It is a reality that religious communities, even in Singapore, remain in their silos.

It is not uncommon for religious organisations and businesses to place emphasis on recruiting those who are of the same faith, even for roles not directly religion-related.

Of course, it is their prerogative to do so.

But it is sad that instead of living and working side-by-side with non-religious affiliated parties to forge mutual understanding and friendships despite their differences, these groups choose exclusivity and isolation.

I have seen it even in charity and volunteer organisations, where one can overhear remarks like "this person will not have genuine compassion because he does not share our faith" or "he is an outsider, so he cannot fully understand our religious goals".

Rhetoric like this from any religious organisation or individual is disconcerting. Such comments are dangerous and not to be accepted here.

It is sad that instead of living and working side-by-side with non-religious affiliated parties to forge mutual understanding and friendships despite their differences, these religious groups choose exclusivity and isolation.

With the City Harvest case and the one in which an imam made insensitive remarks, it is clear that religious leaders have a big influence over their followers.

But what are they doing to promote religious pluralism?

In this age of heightened consciousness of one's religious identity and of religious diversity, Singapore can never deviate from our pledge of "regardless of race, language or religion".

Wong Lai Chun (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'What are religious leaders doing to promote pluralism?'. Print Edition | Subscribe