Keep religion and politics apart

File photo of the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering the National Day Rally Speech at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore

Following the controversy over an attempt by a religiously motivated group to take over a women's rights group in 2009, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned in his National Day Rally speech that year of the need for separating religion from politics ("PM warns of religious fault lines"; Aug 17, 2009).

While he emphasised the positive role of religion in providing spiritual support, he also expressed concern over religious groups imposing their views on others.

From casinos to abortion to organ donation, some policies do appear to go against religious doctrines. It is inevitable that moral dilemmas will surface occasionally.

However, instead of taking on emotively moralistic tones and drawing battle lines between believers and non-believers, such issues should be discussed in a more pragmatic and scientific manner on strictly secular platforms.

In the case of the recent controversy over the Health Promotion Board's Frequently Asked Questions on sexuality, it is disconcerting that some religious groups and religious leaders have publicly and personally weighed in to oppose the wording of the information, which they claimed endorses homosexual lifestyles.

I am also disturbed that a church is trying to mobilise the larger Christian community against the FAQs in a "pro-377A guide", which echoes the events in 2009.

Whatever one's position, politics in Singapore should be kept secular, and religious leaders should be constantly and clearly reminded of the dire consequences to religious harmony should they start pushing their moral agendas aggressively on a public platform in Singapore's multi-religious society.

Liew Kai Khiun

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