Making religious harmony a way of life
Published on Jun 20, 2014 6:27 AM
The findings of an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey - which show that six out of 10 people believe there is a high level of religious harmony in Singapore - reveal the foundational achievements of secularism here.
These successes rest on the state's equidistance from all religions, its impartiality towards all and the absence of any hostility towards organised faith.
The state is not neutral towards religion: instead, it seeks to protect religious harmony both through the law and by encouraging inter-religious understanding. However, because the state has no religion and no religious preferences, it has created a secular space in which citizens can practise their faiths without impinging on those of others or on the making of public policy. The soundness of that space is shown by the degree of popular trust elicited by the survey.
Many would be aware of the different ways state-religion separation has been tested in the past - for example, the online FAQ on sexuality by the Health Promotion Board which sparked comments from religious groups.
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