Yawning Bread has just written an essay entitled "The Niqab and the Freedom of Religion - is there any logical reason why people speak of the freedom of religion?".
It is written in typical Yawning Bread style - articulate, intelligent and very well-reasoned. Nevertheless it takes a certain degree of courage to write it (even though most of his examples are taken from outside Singapore). For the essay addresses a topic that is quite taboo in Singapore - religion.
Jus think Sedition Act; Internal Security Act; Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act; and the Penal Code. There are probably one dozen different ways you could get arrested or detained in Singapore, for talking about religion in the "wrong" way.
We like to say that there is religious harmony in Singapore. Actually, that depends on your understanding of the word "harmony".
I would not say that there is religious "harmony" in Singapore. I would say that there is religious tolerance. In Singapore, there is undeniably a high degree of mutual religious tolerance, instilled by the efforts of the Singapore government.
Those efforts work on this basic principle - if you offend someone else's religion, you're gonna get it from the government.
Thus there is mutual tolerance. Not harmony. There is the absence of inter-religious violence, but not the presence of inter-religious understanding. Can we make that further leap? It would be a great achievement indeed.
ST Nov 22, 2006
Singapore may host world interfaith dialogue, says SM
SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong wants Singapore to be a venue for interfaith dialogue, bringing religious leaders together to promote greater understanding of each other's faith.
Mr Goh raised the issue of such a meeting with the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who was 'very supportive' of the idea when they met in Rome on Monday.
'I suggested that since this is a troubled world, we should think of organising an interfaith dialogue in Singapore,' Mr Goh told Singapore media after the half-hour meeting.
Standing just outside the Vatican's St Peter's Square, he said Singapore is an ideal venue for such a meeting late next year or in early 2008 as it is a multi-religious society where people live in harmony.
'If we can have interfaith dialogue initiated by Singapore, the Vatican, plus a few other heads of religion, then we can contribute to a better understanding between people of different religions,' he added.
Singapore has been spreading the word of wanting to host an interfaith dialogue, an idea that Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo surfaced a few months ago.
In his ministry's addendum to the President's address at the opening of Parliament earlier this month, Mr Yeo said Singapore is committed to promoting interfaith dialogue in the coming years.
Technorati: Singapore; religion.