Inter-religious talks enable leaders to align anti-extremist strategies

Singapore needs to manage the potential sources of religious conflict or disharmony in the country.

But when it comes to sensitive matters of faith, let us progress step by step.

Most of our citizens, no matter what their faith or economic background may be, are mature and rational enough to lead a good religious life without any notions of wanting to do harm to their fellow citizens.

However, people of deep faith may be misled by evil-doers masquerading as holy men. We should be aware that part of the problem can be traced to the interpretational or contextual aspects of reference texts.

Having regular inter-religious problem-solving or management discussions is a good start to addressing religious extremism (Inter-religious discussions not enough to tackle violence, by Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao; April 29).

Properly planned, moderated, honest and open-minded discussions can enable our religious leaders to share ideas, solve problems and reach an understanding and agreement on how they can make the practice of their faiths more in tune with a multiracial and multi-religious society.

Among other things, they can learn from one another and come up with strategies for training preachers not to run down other religions or create conflict in society, but rather to preach goodness, compassion and harmonious living.

They can pledge to stand solidly together to root out extreme preaching, work out a reporting system to pinpoint undesirable preachers, and agree on how to deal with them.

Lim Ang Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'Inter-religious talks enable leaders to align anti-extremist strategies'. Print Edition | Subscribe