Between Eden and Armageddon: Navigating ‘Religion’ And ‘Politics’ in Singapore
41 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2010
Typically, inter-religious conflict posed the main threat to racial and religious harmony in Singapore. In 2009, ‘soft constitutional law’ norms ordering the distinct but overlapping spheres of ‘religion’ and 'politics' were extended to a newly emergent public order threat to social harmony. This arises where groups advocating religiously informed values clash with groups advocating liberalhumanistic values to shape legal policy. The ‘AWARE controversy’ exemplified such ‘culture wars’. A non-government organisation leadership tussle became a public order threat when non-religious parties invoked the spectre of religious activism to agitate other religious and secular groups; this episode received presidential and ministerial attention in major policy speeches, reiterating the rules of engagement between religion and politics in a secular democracy. These informal norms are analysed to ascertain the legitimate role of religion in the public sphere as exercises of religious liberty, and what constitutes a religious ‘threat’ to public order within the constitutional framework.
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