Monday, September 8

Get young involved in inter-faith meets

Another response to the ST article - Clergy 'wary of inter-faith talks', I posted this on the 3 Sep.
ST Forum - Get young involved in inter-faith meets

Sep 9, 2008
Get young involved in inter-faith meets

I REFER to last Wednesday's reports, 'Clergy 'wary of inter-faith talks'' and 'Four in five young people here believe in religion'.
As a Buddhist youth and a Singaporean, I urge religious leaders to make possible more inter-faith engagements. It is important for youth from different faiths to know one another as friends so we can be united as Singaporeans. I would like to share my personal experiences and offer them as encouragement towards meaningful inter-faith friendships. Instead of diluting our own faiths, we achieved a deeper understanding.

I was co-chairperson of the first Singapore Inter-Faith Youth (SIFY) Forum in 2006-2007. During preparations, we could not get the Christian faith representatives to join. Fortunately, youth from a Catholic church came forward. Since then, these youth from seven major religions in Singapore, namely Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Taoism, held numerous inter-faith visits, sharing sessions and continue to be active in promoting inter-religious activities.

Since the launch of the Community Engagement Programme in 2006, I observed a slow but steady increase in the number of youth becoming more aware of inter-faith activities and comfortable about engaging in inter-faith discussions.

I was also project coordinator of Project Million Lotus 2006 and 2007, a movement to gather the good thoughts and stories of compassionate acts from all religions. It received the support of the National Steering Committee of Racial and Religious Harmony, all five community development councils, the People's Association and many religious groups. Students aged seven to 18, from more than 15 educational institutions and youth organisations, actively participated. Many schools, from primary schools to junior colleges, held talks during morning assembly on the importance of inter-faith harmony in Singapore.

To ensure that youth in Singapore become responsible citizens committed to maintaining inter-racial and inter-religious harmony, inter-faith dialogues and friendships have to start now.

This can be possible only with the full support of family members, community leaders, government bodies and, most important, religious leaders who act as role models for youth to follow. Our youth must learn to coexist harmoniously and face the challenges of nation building together, regardless of race or religion.

Lim Siew Wee
Co-Chairperson, SIFY Forum 2007
Project Coordinator, Project Million Lotus 2006 and 2007

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