Growing Faith: Stories with a Message for Todays Youth

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He became influenced by religious critics and scientific scepticism advocates such as American Sam Harris. Reason alone can guide such decision-making," he said. Experts said the relative stability of a country also means there is less concern about the future because the present is "non-threatening". When this is the case, there is less incentive to look to religion for divine intervention or for security.

Helping Kids Keep the Faith | Fuller Youth Institute

Young people might also be doing their own research before eventually committing to a particular faith, experts said. Some suggested that the multi- religious make-up of Singapore and the open-door policy of religious institutions here facilitate "shopping" for a religion.

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Some young people could also be identifying more with liberal ideologies that clash with religious teachings on topics such as homosexuality. Social anthropologist Lai Ah Eng of the National University of Singapore NUS said this group might therefore find religions "variously limiting, irrational, oppressive, unreasonable and unscientific". Youth and religious experts interviewed noted the high-profile failures of institutional religions to uphold their credibility as a moral voice, which may also have turned some people away from religion.

Reverend Father Jude David, co-chaplain of the Catholic Church's Office for Young People, believes that without religion "Singapore would certainly lose a part of her soul or spirit". He said religion teaches its followers to be moral, adding: "We need to guard our nation, our children and the next generation against moral decadence. Others are concerned about solidarity in households where the parents or grandparents are deeply religious. NUS sociologist Paulin Straughan said disparities in religious ideology could result in intergenerational fault lines and a widening gap "because religion, when it is functional, pulls families together".

Ultimately, the consensus among the various groups is for the need for more dialogue to understand "mutual concerns and find ways to negotiate potential tensions", said Dr Mathews. They said this should be backed by more research to understand the specific make-up of Singapore's non-religious segment. Communication channels already exist.

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For instance, the Humanist Society - set up to represent Singapore's non-religious population - has been involved in discussions organised by the Inter-Religious Organisation of Singapore and the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles. Executive committee member Pearl Lin said the society's role is to provide a voice for the non-religious, whom she said tend to be excluded and forgotten.

Fuller Youth Institute

But the Buddhist Federation's Venerable Seck is not worried about the growing pool of non-religious Singaporeans. To him, good values and morals are more important. He said: "As long as there is moral education and the ability to differentiate between what is right and wrong, there will always be common ground among the religious and non-religious.

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Protect your heart from unworthy people.

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