Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There is a place for religion and a place for secularism


Letter From Sabina-Leah Fernandez

I REFER to 'What Women Really Want' (May 2). While it is true that we have the recession and Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak to worry about, I hope the 2,000 people who showed up at last Saturday's Aware's EGM, queueing for two to three hours and sitting in a room for several more, are testament to the fact that this issue matters to Singaporean men and women.

While the debate has centred on homosexuality, the crux of what we was discussed on Saturday by men and women of every race, religion and sexual orientation was this: There is a place for religion and a place for secularism, and while those two spaces can live harmoniously side by side, they must be kept separate. It is not acceptable for anyone of any religious affiliation to enforce their beliefs on others, particularly in a secular environment.

If the new exco had not been voted out, if 1,000 people had not shouted and screamed to have ex-president Josie Lau's executive committee removed, it would have set an unhealthy precedent to others with strong opinions. It would have sent the message that it is okay to steamroll into any organisation and enforce your personal beliefs.

Singaporeans standing up for what they believe in is a win for civil society, for Non-Governmental Organisations, for keeping secular organisations secular and religious organisations, religious.

Most of all, it shows people care enough to fight for what they believe is right. And this beats an apathetic I'm-too-busy-worrying-about-my-bottom-line society any day.

The implications of the Aware issue concerned not only women, but men too. It encouraged mature, professional open-minded engagement between various groups of differing opinions.

From TODAY, Voices – Tuesday, 05-May-2009

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