The Straits Times, 23 September 2016
Professor Kong discussed the pros and cons of religious competition and the challenges of building resilience in a multi-religious society. While Prof Kong acknowledged that religious competition can degenerate into disruptive conflict and destabilising violence, she pointed out that it is important to remember that religious competition can also have positive consequences. “It opens up religious choice for individuals. It has the potential to augment social welfare, for example, through the increased provision of psychological and social support services through religious networks,” she said. Prof Kong shared her views on the relation between globalisation and religious change. She observed that globalisation has reinforced and deepened religious consciousness, rather than diminished it. She noted that that growing migration has resulted in a significantly more plural religious demography in many parts of the world, adding that new technologies greatly enhance the ability of religious groups to disseminate religious messages and religious content widely and rapidly. Lastly, Prof Kong discussed the topic of building resilience in Singapore. She stressed that the protection and resilience we require rely on the ability of a people to absorb, adapt to or mitigate the influence of negative stressors, including any conflict and violence resulting from religious competition, and relating – even in misled and misinterpreted ways – to religious beliefs. She highlighted that resilience in a multi-religious society comes from trust within and between religious groups, and between religious and secular groups. “These ties take time to build, and require us to have a common understanding of what challenges we face, a willingness to think about them together, and a healthy discourse about how to address them. They also require an openness to the commonality of beliefs and values, even practices, across religions, and between religion and secular morality,” she added.
Last updated on 28 Sep 2016.