I came across the following article today on ReporterNews:
Singapore prime minister: Religion threatens stability
Thursday, August 20, 2009
SINGAPORE — Singapore’s prime minister said in his National Day speech that “aggressive preaching” by religious groups and evangelizing threaten the tiny city-state’s stability.
Lee Hsien Loong, a Buddhist by birth, said his education at the island’s Roman Catholic High School was an example of how different religions can coexist peacefully.
“The most visceral and dangerous fault line (in Singapore) is race and religion,” Lee said.
Singapore’s majority Buddhist Chinese, Malay Muslims and Indian Hindus have largely avoided conflict since race riots between Chinese and Malays left about 40 dead in the 1960s.
“Christians can’t expect this to be a Christian society,” he said last Sunday. “Muslims can’t expect this to be a Muslim society, ditto with the Buddhists, the Hindus and the other groups.”
In the most recent census in 2000, 43 percent of Singaporeans said they were Buddhist, 15 percent Muslim, 15 percent Christian, 8.5 percent Taoist and 4 percent Hindu.
Lee cited the case of a Christian couple jailed earlier this year for distributing religious pamphlets deemed offensive to members of other faiths, and he condemned those who try to convert ailing hospital patients “who don’t want to be converted.”
He said the government must remain secular because Singapore’s authority and laws “don’t come from a sacred book.” Lee’s People’s Action Party has ruled Singapore since independence 50 years ago.
Lee said there has been a global surge in religious fervor, including in the United States and Islamic countries.
“There is a wave of revival, megachurches and televangelism,” Lee said. “Religion and politics are supposed to be separated in America, but in reality they are closely entangled.”
The title of the article is pretty provocative and it’s what originally made me stop to read this article. I can’t disagree with the guy. Race and religion are major contention points everywhere. There is always some religious persecution and tension.
It’s also true that people need to learn to look past those differences and get along with each other. Why can’t we all be friends? ^_^ Religion is important, but it shouldn’t become a stumbling block for a nation.
That being said, I think people should respect the laws in Singapore against forcefully proselytizing, especially when it comes to trying to push people that are on their death beds. Somehow, that doesn’t seem too Christian to me. Well, not modern Christian anyway. It could be a page out of a book about the days during the Grand Inquisition. If it’s not welcome, and certainly if it’s not legal, don’t do it! Give unto Rome what is Rome’s and give unto God what is God’s, right?
I’m not too sure about this global surge in religious fervor he mentioned, because I hadn’t noticed it, but it is true that no matter how much people try to deny it, the US Federal Government is based on and borrows heavily from Christianity. Separation of church and state aside, most of the US’s laws are taken from the Bible. Most of the country’s accepted values and morals are taken from the Bible as well.