Move beyond tolerating religious differences to continuously engaging one another

Mr Barry Desker ("Guarding Singapore's unique religious harmony"; Dec 13) made a careful and comprehensive survey of the way in which the State and religious institutions have managed the prevailing peace in Singapore when there is so much tension and conflict around us and even raging open warfare fuelled by religious claims.

The call is for continued vigilance to safeguard peace and harmony.

Because there are important religious differences within and between our beliefs and practices, we need to engage in serious and critical intra-faith and inter-faith dialogue.

This will result in acknowledging and understanding the differences, and respecting them.

Next, we have to move beyond tolerating the differences and continuously engage with one another to seek commonalities.

Religion has both a positive and a negative role in the public arena.

Each religion must not remain in isolation and exist in separation from others and from society.

In an inclusive society, we need to respect and accept those who are non-religious as well.

All human beings are limited in knowledge and none of us has a monopoly on truth.

It is only expected and meaningful for us to play our part responsibly in our inclusive situation and strive to secure the common good.

It is only then that we can maintain peace and harmony.

Yap Kim Hao (Rev Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Move beyond tolerating religious differences to continuously engaging one another'. Print Edition | Subscribe