Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, in this October 29, 2009 file photo.
Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files
Singapore is a multi-religious country where the non-religious form about 17% of the population. The religion with the largest number of followers is Buddhism (33%) followed by Christianity (18%), Islam (14%). Other religions include Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Chinese folk religion.
The government is secular. There is freedom of religion except for banned groups such as Jehovah’s Witness. The government will also use various laws such as the Sedition Act to prevent different religious groups from inciting their followers to get into dangerous conflict with another religious community. There is no prosecution of atheists in Singapore although there could be negative perception of us among some religious followers.
Some interesting observations:
- Large number of MPs who placed N.A with regards to religious belief. This includes prominent figures in the Cabinet such as Former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, and the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Either they are freethinkers, or they didn’t want to be judged by their faith label.
- The largest group in Parliament are the Protestant Christians, taking up close to a quarter of all seats although they form only 10-11% of the country’s population. Together with the Catholics, the Christians fill 32% of seats, above their national proportion of 18% in the rest of the country.
- There are only 2 MPs following Taoism and Chinese folk religion even though, upon independence in 1965, these beliefs account for about 40% of the population. Together, the Buddhists, Taoists and Chinese folk religionists form only 10 seats, about 11% of Parliament even though 44% of the country follow a mixture of these religions.
- These statistics are of no indication of the MPs opinion of social issues, especially those caught in cultural wars: Gay rights, casino, abortion etc
- While not fully representative of the country religious demographic, it could be a fact that MPs belong to a particular social class (more tend to be from richer, more educated backgrounds) and the religious landscape within that class could be different.