Walid Jumblatt Abdullah: Don’t Let Secular Fundamentalism Be The Norm

I refer to the letter “Efforts of Pink Dot ambassadors should be lauded, not condemned” (May 13). I take issue with the statement that “it is important to not let religious-driven emotions cloud our judgment when it comes to contentious issues such as this”.

It is problematic for two reasons: It assumes all religious beliefs are based on “emotions” and are therefore irrational; and it promotes the idea that in our version of secularism, ideas based on religious or moral convictions should not enter the public discussion.

Each one of us has a code of values that defines what is moral or not, and which can be based on religious or non-religious ideas. Neither is inherently more rational or emotional than the other; both sets of values must be open to scrutiny and critiques once they enter the public domain.

Every citizen has a right to air his/her views as long as they do not violate any law. Religious-based views, as our Prime Minister has said, can be aired in the public domain and can contribute towards public discourse.

To dismiss one set of values before it is properly discussed, and to disallow religious-based opinions from entering the public realm of ideas, sounds to me like secular fundamentalism, which is not the version of secularism Singapore practises.

However, I agree with the letter writer that there is no room or need for attacks on the Pink Dot ambassadors’ personal character. One must discuss the issue itself and not attempt character assassinations of those championing a particular cause.

At the same time, just as the ambassadors have a right to propagate their beliefs, others must be given the same right to critique their actions. Doing so based on reasoned arguments should not be equated with personal attacks, and is to be expected when entering the public domain.

It must be noted that religion is dear to many people, as much as freedom and notions of liberalism are to others. Expecting religious people not to base their judgments on their beliefs is, unfortunately, fallacious.

Discussions on notions of morality and what is acceptable will be here to stay and will probably intensify in the coming years.

I hope all sides will remain civil in this discussion and that none will be discriminated against for whatever beliefs are held. All sides must also make it clear that attacks on one’s character should be avoided under any circumstances.


Source: www.todayonline.com

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