City Harvest Church recently welcomed the Taoist Federation of Singapore in a meeting to build friendship within the Inter-religious Organisation.
Contributed By Jonathan Tang
The Inter-Religious Organisation in Singapore is a stalwart upholder of the rapport among the numerous religions present locally. The IRO was started in 1949, and currently consists of organizations from 10 different religions.
With leaders of each religion taking on the chairmanship on a rotating basis annually, the mantle fell on the Taoist Federation Singapore this year. Making full use of this opportunity, TFS has been reaching out to religious leaders in Singapore. More than just to fulfill a duty or to cultivate cooperation, their aim is to develop genuine friendships across different religions.
|PHOTO: Benny Lin|
Some of the board members of City Harvest Church recently welcomed the TFS for a meeting in the church’s corporate office in Suntec City. TFS chairman Master Tan Thiam Lye, together with vice-chairman Master Ling Kin Huat and administrator Master Chung Wei Yi, were present to introduce themselves to the CHC board members. The meeting began with a video introduction of the church by hosting pastor Joseph Ang, followed by a brief explanation of the church’s organization structure and history. Tan then shared about his current chairmanship in the IRO.
The meeting also saw both CHC and TFS reaffirming their commitment toward strengthening inter-religious cooperation and harmony in Singapore through their various activities, in light of the recent racial and religious tensions brewing around the globe. With CHC’s Jurong West Street 91 premises in close proximity to a TFS temple, Jin Fu Gong temple, located at Jurong West Street 93, the leaders of the two religious organizations also further commited to maintain and build up the cordial relations they have enjoyed over the last 10 years.
Some of the topics that were discussed included inter-faith activities such as CHC’s involvement in blood donation drives and various community projects; and TFS inviting CHC to their 20th Anniversary inter-faith event in December.
Further plans to build good relations between the two organizations include a visit to CHC’s Jurong West premises and the TFS office in the San Qing Gong temple.
Bridging The Chasms Of Religion
Contributed By Jeremy Chua
Religious harmony is woven into the very fabric of Singapore’s national identity. Every person who goes through the Singaporean education system will recite the National Pledge every morning, which comprises the words, “Regardless of race, language or religion.”
With a spectrum of religions being in so close proximity to each other, the peace that the country enjoys against a tumultuous backdrop in contemporary society is testament to the effort put in by the government and the leaders of the various religious communities, that Singapore is a bulwark of harmony in the midst of all that is going on in the world.
It seems that Jonathan Swift, writer and satirist, was prescient when he said in the 17th century, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” In a society where extremists are strapping bombs to themselves or threatening to burn the sacred text of another religion in the name of the “will of God,” it is clear to see that organized religion has struck a major raw nerve in the world today.
Even among seven billion people, occupying a surface area of 150 million square kilometers, there seems to be not enough space for the estimated 19 major world religions, and countless more that are spread across the face of this world, with constant jostling and encroaching of boundaries seemingly the norm.
What the world needs is not more blustering and fighting, not more judgmental attitudes and condemnation, not more fighting and vengeance. What we need is more love and tolerance, more friendship and humanity, more acceptance and understanding. After all, that is what most, if not all religions seek to espouse. Anything that runs contrary to that is not religion.
Yes, it is true that religion taken the wrong way has much power to drive a wedge between nations, and even individuals. But at the same time, in the midst of all the tension and uncertainty, it is heartening to know that there are people who are striving to promote unanimity and unity in a world torn apart by prejudice and sectarian values.