Work together to protect the common good

I agree with assistant political editor Rachel Chang that the common space in Singapore is "fundamental to the peaceful functioning of Singapore's multiracialism" ("In face of rising religiosity, keep faith with the secular state"; Nov 1).

To take that further, what has enabled Singapore to respect and build peace with all the different cultural and religious groups is a deeper principle - it is the idea of the common good.

It is the idea that strives to recognise the dignity and equality of all people, and thus seek to facilitate, support and create social conditions that give people the possibility of attaining fulfilment in material and intellectual needs, for example.

The recent cases that involved City Harvest Church and Faith Community Baptist Church are not so much instances of a "challenge to the secular judiciary's judgment" or a challenge to "the authority of the secular state", but are instances where the common good needs to be protected.

Strictly speaking, there should be no "differentiation of said judgment (judiciary) from the moral judgment of the church's belief system" if the common good is sought and the dignity of the person is respected by the state, the secular judiciary system and other members of society (individuals or groups).

The secular judiciary system is not above the different societal groups that it serves, in the sense that it can also be wrong or corrupt.

This is where the different segments of society, secular or religious, have to work together with a truthful heart to offer balances and checks.

While the ideal situation would be for each man to be so kind as to design a society that gave everyone the utmost liberties possible without infringing on the liberties of others, the state has the duty to step in where the common good is threatened and do its part to ensure that the system is as unskewed as it can be.

It is never helpful to speak of the secular state and religious groups in terms of challenge, as if they are opposed to one another, because where each one - state and church or religion - plays its part with truthfulness, genuine goodwill and a spirit of service, they will most certainly meet on grounds of the common good that serves to uplift all people in society.

Carmen Tan Kah Min (Miss)