What are the Religious Aspectrs of the Pink Dot Movement & The Pink Dot Movement?
Singapore has been a country with the highest diversity of languages and ethnicities since independence.
Since the British left, Singapore has become a home for many different religious and ethnic groups.
The country is well-known for its tolerance of differences.
But, in the past religion and race have been a major threat to social cohesion in Singapore.
Many clashes over culture ideology and moral values have created tension in the country, particularly over rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) people (Wang 2016, 2016).
In May 2009, the Pink Dot Movement was born. It began with two thousand five hundred people wearing pink, and all holding pink umbrellas. This formation became known as the Pink Dot Movement of Singapore.
The ritual became a regular event that is held every year.
In their quest to achieve equal rights, the LGBT citizens of the nation have positioned themselves as the leading initiative.
The Reaction Of Religious Communities To The Pink Dot Movement
It has been the most important event for the Singapore gay community since the birth of the Pink Dot Movement.
It not only attracted media attention but also caused several controversy every year.
The event was not only a gay parade; it also inspired pride parades across the USA and UK.
The parade, which was supported by many people and active organizations, celebrated Tan 2015, the day Singapore recognizes its sexual diversity.
As the movement gained media attention, it attracted many commercial companies.
However, it was not an easy road and there have been many opponents to the movement.
Ustaz Nori Deros, a local Muslim teacher, started a counter-movement to the Pink Dot.
He called it the “Wear White” Movement and asked all Singaporean Muslims to support his cause and wear white for the weekly prayers as well as special Ramadan prayers on Saturdays.
He asked for support of traditional family values and has asked that he follow the movement (Tan, 2017).
This movement began on June 28th 2014, exactly on the same day that the Pink Dot Movement took place in the same year.
Lawrence Khong, a Christian pastor from Love Singapore churches and a pro-family advocate, issued a second statement asking all Christians in his network to dress similarly in white for Sunday services.
Lawrence Khong, minister, has called for another pro-family movement that includes all members from his churches network.
His campaign is called “We wear White” and calls on all citizens of Singapore, regardless their religion or race to wear white between the 4th & 5th of June in support of the natural family values.
All of these anti-pink dots movements were placed on the same date in 2016 as the pink dot movement.
Minister Khong repeatedly stated that the wear white movement wasn’t directly opposed to the pink, but he also said that it was not a direct push back to the LGBT movement (Chiu, et al. 2016).
This wear-white movement has received media coverage and is actively participating in social media to draw more followers.
The conservative population wants LGBT activists to see that this movement shows them they have the majority support to push back against the LGBT movement.
They are determined to combat the liberal ideology of homosexuality and its direct contradictions with the law and laws of the country.
They are not only against the laws, but also believe that the LGBT movement offends both the core national values of this country and the view held by the majority of the population, who believe in family structure, marriage, public morality, and family structure.
Khnag’s campaigning was challenged by another founder who said that his efforts are more focused towards education programs for young Muslim populations.
The general public also reacted mixed to these movements.
The Important Role Of Religion In Determining Identity, Morality And Politics
Every society has a dominant cultural sense, especially when it comes to religion.
Religion in Singapore is defined by the diversity of religious beliefs and ethnicities from various countries.
Numerous researches show that Singapore is the most religiously diverse nation.
Oswin, 2014: Buddhism is the most widely followed religion in Singapore.
There is always a close connection between the relationship and the society.
Many people believe that religion can only be found in churches, mosques, and temples. However, when you look closely at the religious aspects within the society, you will see that both religion and society are interconnected.
The reality is that religion is present in many aspects of society. Religion has an unavoidable effect on cultural values and politics.
While Singapore is home to many religions, the influence of religion on the society of Singapore is important in many ways.
As such, Singapore is considered to be a secular nation and it is suspicious about religious groups as they often interfere in politics and cultural values. Tan (2016)
It is common for there to be no clear separation between the two. This was evident in recent issues over the Pink Dot Movement and section 377A, where conservative Christian and Muslim groups voiced opposition.
But the religious doctrine should not have an eminent enough influence on the state’s affairs.
There are two aspects to the Singaporean religious doctrine that can be viewed closely.
Multifaith communication is required in order to communicate with the vast majority of Singapore’s population. There is also a strong religious environmentalism.
The environmental religious approach cannot be tied to the political action of Singapore’s state, since religion and politics operate in separate areas in Singapore (Lim 2013).
This is why it must be more focused and communicate the environmental ethics to the religious community.
Even though Singapore is a secular country, religion and politics are strongly connected in Singapore.
It is possible to have huge effects on Singapore’s politics by making it a secular state.
If you look at secularism from a political perspective, there are two types. The first is the’suppersessionist” model which defines religion as being the direct opposite of religion.
This form of secularism has been called militant secularism (Tan 2016).
This form of secularism is mainly found in European expressions.
Singapore’s government, however, follows a modest form of secularism that can also be described as anti theocratic. However, it is not anti religion.
The government rejects the ideology and political dominance of any religious belief and its followers, but accepts the importance of religion within the society.
It protects every citizen’s right to religious freedom according to the Constitution of Singapore.
The state believes that every citizen has the right to practice their religion. This right has been extended so that the state accepts not only religious practice, but also the propagation of certain religions (Mendes (2015)).
The state of Singapore is a secular state, but it recognizes the role of religion in society.
In Singapore, section 377A was criminalized and the pink dot movement were.
Since 2009, when it was a small group of only a few people, the pink dots movement has been celebrating liberty to love regardless any sexual orientation.
Over the years, the movement has taken a non-confrontational view towards gay rights in the country.
Pink badges have been a symbol of the movement’s popularity and it is now one of the most popular social events in Singapore.
But, the movement has raised the question of whether Singaporeans are viewing it as a cultural conflict or a battle for morality. This is where issues such as ideology, behavior, and identity become the main ones.
Religious groups have protested directly against LGBT rights, claiming homosexuality is against traditional family values.
The “wear white” campaign was the first interfaith cooperation. Both the Christian population and the Muslim population supported it. Leaders from both religions asked their followers not to wear anything but white when they went to the mosque.
The many conservative layers within Singaporean society were exposed by the LGBT rights issue.
It reveals the stark division between secular and religious groups as well as between religious conservatives, and highlights the gap between the majority conservative population and the liberal minority.
It shows that homosexuality is morally unacceptable to a portion of the population, while the rest believe in universal human right.
But the most disturbing and obvious thing about the homosexuality issue is the stark difference in views between religious and secular groups (Lee, 2016).
The pink dot movement shows that the conservative camp is represented mainly by religious groups of state, while the liberal camp represents those who hold a secular perspective on the issue.
The National Council of Churches of Singapore (Love Singapore), Catholic Church, Catholic Church, and Muslim organizations such Islamic Religious Council of Singapore have all protested the pink dots movement, and called homosexuality a crime.
Although they have been passive about legalizing gay rights for Singaporeans, it is not just the religious conservatives who are opposed to LGBT rights. Around seven percent of the population thinks LGBT rights would be a bad idea.
Even those who don’t have any religious affiliation have expressed concern about gay sex.
This is in line with the conservatives’ view, which includes nine out of ten Muslims and eight out ten Protestants who believe gay sex is wrong.
It’s also because many religious groups feel that if gay rights are acknowledged in the country, they will have to change their religious beliefs. They would no longer be able state whether a certain thing is morally right. (Detenber and al., 2014).
This made gay rights one of Singapore’s biggest problems and created a cultural and moral conflict between the two groups.
The moral views and attitudes of the people are changing. More groups now support legalizing gay rights. This is a sign that there will be more cultural and moral conflict in the society.
There is a difference between the Normative Claims of Religion, and the Scholarly Perspective of Religion.
It can be separated into two distinct sections when studying religion. The descriptive study of religious or the anthropological research of religion deals with descriptive human behavior. The theological study and study of religious is concerned with the normative.
Both sections can be distinguished because the scholarly perspective on religion studies people and their beliefs.
The normative study of religion studies the God and how it affects people.
Modern Europe is home to the scholarly study on religion. It examines the beliefs and explorations of people and their behaviors.
The first scholars to study descriptive religious beliefs were excited to compile and compare all the beliefs, rituals, myths, and other information that was found throughout the world.
These are found in the diaries and journals of early explorers.
This includes cross-cultural perspectives.
Scholars have also sought to find the non-comparative similarities and differences between beliefs.
A scholarly study of religion will identify the similarities and differences in religions and then theorize about why these occur.
However, the normative claims about the religion will be concerned with the Gods as well as how they affect the general population.
While the normative approach to religion will consider the fundamental differences, it will argue that one side is right or wrong, while the anthropological approach to religion will examine all similarities and differences in belief systems and establish their relation to people’s psychology (Yue & Leung (2015)).
In other words, the normative view of religion is the approach that assumes that religious behaviors, beliefs, and institutions are easily observed. The scholarly approach to religious studies, however, leaves the research until they can find the root cause and goes to the theologians.
Concerning the pink dots movement, scholars tend to take a scholarly approach that examines the movement’s relationship with religion and how it has influenced reactions against it.
Theological roots are not always present in these cases (Lim, 2013,).
Researchers are not convinced that religious groups are opposed to gay rights. They think that if the LGBT population is granted their rights, it will be difficult for them to be the moral guardian for the people.
They won’t be able decide whether a particular deed is right and wrong.
Critical Cultural Relativism in Singapore – The Pink Dot Movement
There has been growing concern in Singapore about Pink Dot’s political movements, which are increasingly being called the “cultural war” by Singaporean media.
Political analysts believe that the cultural war will define the new period of political action, focusing on the gaps in cultural value and cultural claims.
This threatens not only the cultural and political space, but also the collective identity of citizens in the democratic state.
While it is impossible to identify the exact moment in time when Singaporeans entered the new age of cultural pluralism and democracy, several issues have been prominent.
One example is the “wear white” movement, which was opposed to the pink dots movement.
After the repeal petition for section 377A, the penal code in Singapore that criminalizes homosexual rights, the LGBT rights issue is one of the most important. Wilson, 2015.
Many prominent public disagreements have occurred between pro-LGBT activists and those who opposed the act’s repeal.
Public debates have occurred over the issues of family and LGBT rights.
The pink dot movement has been counter-protesting religious people, but the controversy has taken a prominent turn.
There is no peaceful coexistence among all the Singaporean social groups due to the increasing public outcry over LGBT rights.
The cultural wars are also a sign that this issue isn’t unique to Singapore.
Pluralism of value is a natural fact of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural societies. It does not necessarily mean that disagreements will become more violent.
There has been no violence in relation to this issue. This shows that cultural conflicts can be solved peacefully.
As Singapore’s political landscape changes, the government is attempting to adapt to new models and meet the increasing expectations of citizens (Mendes 2015).
Since independence, the Singaporean government changed its models.
While there has been a rise in value pluralism in recent years, it is important that the government takes the initiative on cultural and moral issues.
The society norms must not be based on the existing norms, but it should address the antagonisms and value pluralism in a democratic manner.
The Gay activism had not been thriving enough before the Pink Dot Movement.
The social attitudes towards gay people in Singapore have been mostly negative.
However, a look at Singapore’s gay community shows that it has mainly been hidden behind closed doors or in virtual space.
The Legislature of Singapore also made this possible, declaring homosexual acts criminalized under Section 377A of their Penal Code.
Societies Act also refuses to identify non-profit organizations that focus on societal homosexuality issues.
The issue of homosexuality was brought to the public’s attention by this movement.
While Pink Dot Movement has not yet played a significant role in the gay rights movement in Singapore, it is a socio-political initiative that is very unnatural.
But, the campaign has been prominent in Singapore and could shape the future of gay rights.
Governments must take action to ensure that there is no cultural or moral contradiction and that both groups can coexist peacefully.
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