Church leaders' actions part of democratic participation, not religious imposition

I disagree with Mr Barry Daniel Smyth's view that expressing concern to the authorities over Madonna's concert is an attempt to impose beliefs on the wider society ("Religious views cannot form moral compass for nation"; Forum Online, March 1).

Imposing one's beliefs would entail forcing someone else to adopt their practices.

In this case, I don't think any threat was made to the Government to force them to adopt the churches' stand on the concert.

Rather than an imposition of values, this voicing of concern is part of democratic participation - taking part in the national discourse to shape our policies and decisions.

This right to democratic participation extends to all groups, religious and non-religious.

Both religious and non-religious viewpoints are not morally neutral.

A religiously influenced viewpoint should be granted the same respect as an irreligiously influenced one. It should be assessed based on its merits rather than just be rejected.

When shaping national policies, the Government considers these various opinions, not whether they are religious or not in origin, but on "secular rational considerations of public interests - on what makes sense for Singapore", as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech in 2009 ("PM's 4 basic rules for religious harmony"; Aug 17, 2009).

In the case of the Madonna concert, the Government did a good job in weighing the different considerations and acting in the public interest.

Out of respect and tolerance, it took into account religious sensitivities, while still allowing fans to enjoy the performance.

Tessa Ho Xiu Hui (Ms)