Wait, "Militant Secularism"?

What's that? "Militant Secularism"?

That's a phrase used in a particular article in TODAY that caught my attention. See it here.

Right at beginning, it states,

WHILE Singapore’s secularism dictates that religion should not be mixed with politics, religion is “not separated from public life and culture”, law academic Thio Li-ann asserted in Parliament yesterday.

Well, sure, of course religion is part of culture and public life.

And those who engage in public debate cannot be expected to do so independent of their religious views, the Nominated Member of Parliament stressed.

To some extent, yes, certain issues will be tied to particular religious views.

Sounds fine so far. So what is the issue with "militant secularism"?

With the senior Thio looking on in the public gallery, Prof Thio argued: “Secular fundamentalists are oppressive where they seek to mute religiously-informed convictions in public debate.”

Okay, what in the world is "secular fundamentalists"?

Consulting the dictionary for relevant defintions:

Secularism [sek-yuh-luh-riz-uhm]
1. secular spirit or tendency, esp. a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.
2. the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.

Fundamentalism [fuhn-duh-men-tl-iz-uhm]
1. [Religious movement]

2. the beliefs held by those in this movement.
3. strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles: the fundamentalism of the extreme conservatives.

A person who has a strict adherence to the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. I don't see a problem unless someone can point out to me what is so bad about secularism.

They do so “by demonising a view as religious in attempting to make religious faith a cause for embarrassment, or to distract citizens from the merits of an argument by discounting a speaker whose values are shaped by a religious” faith.

I would have to disagree completely with this statement.

What kind of merits are there to an argument made from religious grounds?

"I am against gays because my invisible sky daddy said so."

"As a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/etc, I am against gays/abortion/etc."

"My holy book said so."

"My god says that infidels should die."

If the arguments sound anything like the above, in whatever shape or form, then it deserves "embrassment", scorn and ridicule.

If there are merits to an argument, it will stand on its own. Introducing "My god said so" in front of the argument is pointless if not offensive or just stupid.

Such militant secularism is “a recipe for social disharmony”, she added.

Hmmm, don't know what is militant secularism supposed to mean anyways.

In any case, I think it is reasonable to say that secularism is necessary for social harmony. If religions are allowed to inject their religious poison into law and government, it is only a matter of time before we have religious riots erupting.

So what is the issue anyways?


Felicity said...

Thio-Li An, again? Oh my goodness. I am feeling militant now.