Misplaced Religiosity?

As a nation aspiring to be so-called 1Malaysia, we, and especially many of our politicians, sure seem to already have numerous ways to repeatedly divide ourselves. Does religious exhibitionism in non-religious functions, gatherings, and events actually add to bridging our divide as a people?

By G. Krishnan 

Religion has occupied a rather prominent, and sometimes controversial place in our society’s landscape. Most of us, whatever our religious preference, do tend to show goodwill and have a generous regard for those whose religious orientation may be different from ours.

Sure, there are those individuals and, needless to say, government policies that undermine our widely held believe in the principle of freedom of religion. Yet, for the most part (and the religious bigots notwithstanding), we have had a fairly healthy tradition of coexisting.  

In this climate of relative religious coexistence (but also some uneasiness), however, we have come to witness a creeping – and now seemingly pervasive – tendency for many of our politicians and public figures to often invoke a religious prayer or greeting before addressing an audience or a gathering, initiating a meeting, or even making a presentation – all of which happen to be non-religious in nature. 

This has been increasing the case – irrespective of the religion concerned. It could be a Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikhs, Taoist, Bahia, or anyone else.

On one level, this seems rather harmless. I can imagine those who might be inclined to feel this way. But perhaps we ought to pause and consider, more thoughtfully, the implications of such public practices.

Now I am sure there are some who might already be sensing that here come some atheist ideas thinly disguised to corrupt us from our pious ways. 

Well, let me assuage those suspicions by explicitly stating that I have nothing against any religion. But be as it may, this is quite beside the point. Whether one is religious or not, a believer or not, is really irrelevant here.

What is relevant is that we be thoughtful about the implications of bringing any religion – even when it seems so mundane – into our non-religious public functions.

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