Forum: Move past 'tolerance' towards deeper understanding of different faiths

The recent population census revealed that a growing proportion of Singaporeans have no religion, and Singapore continues to be religiously diverse (More residents have no religious affiliation compared with 10 years ago, June 17).

Against this backdrop, I agree with Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, a permanent member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, who said during the interfaith dialogue last Saturday that the concept of "tolerance" in Singapore's multicultural setting was insufficient (Care, consideration for others stressed at interfaith dialogue, June 20).

But how do we move past the stage of "tolerance"?

One way would be to have open interfaith dialogues. However, these sessions are currently limited to a relatively small group of invitees.

A larger proportion of Singaporeans needs to be made to appreciate and understand the five major religions practised here in Singapore as identified in the census - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism.

Another way to do that would be to introduce religious knowledge as a subject to secondary school students. I remember that when I was in school, students were able to elect to study religious knowledge in a religion that they were interested in.

I propose that the Ministry of Education reintroduce the subject with a curriculum that includes all of Singapore's major religions, instead of just one.

Singapore is a multi-religious country, and we cannot allow it to be torn apart due to misunderstandings surrounding religion.

We are now at a stage where we need to move past "tolerance" to more deeply understand the different religions and how they are similar in many ways.

With this deeper understanding, there will be less of an inclination to impose one's religious beliefs on others.

Benjamin Ng C.K.