Tuesday, September 2

Singapore - Clergy 'wary of inter-faith talks'

Here is a ST Forum online letter (published 05/09/08) in response:

Sep 5, 2008
Good to make friends with people from all faiths

I READ with interest Wednesday's article, 'Clergy 'wary of inter-faith talks''.

I am a Catholic. I have been taught from a young age to make friends with people of all faiths and focus on the similarities in what we believe. I was taught the best way to evangelise my faith is not to ram the Bible down others' throats, but to live my faith daily in all I do, as a true witness of God's love.

These are the values I hold dear today. It has not detracted me from my faith, and frankly, I don't think it should. Christianity is not meant to be divisive or exclusive because we believe God created everything and loves all.

When my church choir made a recording of Christmas carols in 2000, we sold them at various Catholic churches and functions, and raised funds for two non-Catholic charitable organisations which we found to be in need of funds. It was a deliberate move on our part to choose non-Catholic beneficiaries to donate the proceeds of CD sales, because we believed we should not help exclusively those in our own community, but extend our help to those who need it most. Our voices also entertained an inter-faith audience in an event organised by an Inter-Racial Confidence Circle. This inter-faith tradition has long existed in my church community and still carries on today: Financial help is extended to those who need, regardless of faith; prayers are lifted for those in need, regardless of belief.

The Catholic Church has always been a strong supporter of inter-religious dialogue, starting way back in the 1960s even before the phrase 'inter-religious dialogue' was popular. The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue was set up to promote inter-religious dialogue, and its aim is to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and followers of other religions and encourage the study of various religions. Its legacy and works carry on today.

Fear stems from lack of knowledge, and dialogue is one way to open the channels of communication so knowledge can flow. Only by knowing and understanding one another's faiths can we truly work together on common ground, for the good of all.

Bernadette Low (Miss)

Reported in The Straits Times this morning...

Clergy 'wary of inter-faith talks'

Nearly half of Christian leaders fear such dialogue will compromise their beliefs: Poll -ST

Wed, Sep 03, 2008

By Li Xueying

THE bulk of Christian clergymen in Singapore are apprehensive about inter-faith dialogue, said a sociologist who is also a Pentecostal church pastor.

Dr Mathew Mathews came to this conclusion after conducting a survey of clergymen here.

One of its key findings: Nearly 50 per cent feared inter-faith dialogue would compromise their religious convictions.


Four in five young people here believe in religion

by Clarissa Oon
The Straits Times
Sept 3, 2008

RELIGIOUS belief is alive and well in Singapore schools, although the average adolescent has only a sketchy knowledge of the main religions here, a survey has found.

Four in five young people believe in some sort of deity, according to the poll of more than 2,700 students by sociolinguist Phyllis Chew.

Her study, believed to be the first of its kind here among youth aged 13 to 18, is published in a new book on religious diversity in Singapore.

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