A Divine Diversity Doesn't Come Easy
We are all familiar with Singapore’s four main religions: bubble tea, mala, Hai Di Lao and Tik Tok.
Wait, no. Those are the other religions.
It’s Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. But believe it or not, Singapore’s Inter-Religious organisation actually recognises 10 religions.
The other six? Baha'i Faith, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.
It is this diversity that earned Singapore its first place as the most religiously diverse country in the world, according to a study by the Pew Research Centre’s Global Religious Diversity report in 2014.
As an additional layer, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was presented the World Statesman Award by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (a New York-based interfaith group) a couple of months ago on Sep 24.
Receiving the World Statesman Award from Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Appeal Of Conscience Foundation. I am honoured and...Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, September 24, 2019
The award recognises leaders who support peace and freedom by promoting tolerance, human dignity and human rights, championing these causes in their homeland and working with other world leaders to build a better future for all, according to the Foundation.
The neighbouring mosque, temple and church along Telok Ayer Road can testify to that.
But fostering a multireligious society has proven to be a challenging campaign.
Hint: Is it because I’m Chinese?
The willingness to communicate and forge bonds has to come from the religious groups themselves.
Founder of Muslim intra-faith group MCollective, Mr Saiful Anuar, states, “It takes individuals who are willing to go beyond their comfort zone, to listen and challenge their own ways of thinking, and in that process, build understanding and eventually a relationship with each other."
And with a 5.7 million population underway, more ingredients are bound to join this rojak of a society.
Today’s climate presents many threats to religious harmony, but with a diverse population comes a law which protects it.
Called the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, this law allows the Government to act against religious leaders or groups who cause feelings of enmity, hatred or hostility between religious groups, or use religion to promote a political cause.
TLDR: If you stir a pot of trouble among or within religious groups, chances are you'd just end up in that very same pot.
In any case, Singapore is a well of many religions and it doesn’t look like we’re hitting a dry spell any time soon.