Between Eden and Armageddon: Navigating ‘Religion’ And ‘Politics’ in Singapore

41 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2010

See all articles by Li-ann Thio

Li-ann Thio

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law


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.

Suggested Citation

Thio, Li-ann, Between Eden and Armageddon: Navigating ‘Religion’ And ‘Politics’ in Singapore. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, pp. 365-405, December 2009, Available at SSRN:

Li-ann Thio (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics