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Singapore Government Restrains Religious Leaders

on 2001/5/17 9:49:02 ( 1407 reads )


SINGAPORE, May 12, 2001: The Singapore Government has come close to invoking the Religious Harmony Act on several occasions when religious leaders were found mixing politics with religion and putting down other faiths. After being summoned and warned by the police and Internal Security Department officers, the religious leaders stopped their activities. According to the 1990 law, they could have been served with a Restraining Order forbidding them to address any congregation or group on any subject. They would be barred from holding office in any editorial board or committee related to their religious publications. Heavy fines and jail time could result for those convicted of violating the order. Among those who have received warnings are an Islamic religious leader who urged Muslims to vote for Muslim candidates with deep religious beliefs and a Christian pastor who used his church publications to criticize Buddhism, Taoism and Catholicism. An Islamic religious leader was reproved for criticizing a Hindu belief in 1995 that statues of the deity, Ganesha, could drink milk offerings. The leader asserted this widely-witnessed miracle was the work of Satan. The act was brought in when the Government noticed the increase in missionary zeal among different groups and decided to enact legislation while relations between religious groups were still good.

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