Given my disappearance from blogosphere during the period of the AWARE saga, I have yet to express any view on the issues raised by ‘hostile takeover’. For now, I have decided to recycle an old piece that I wrote in 2006 about secularism.

The Works of James Madison

Secularism is a political value that needs to be continually reinforced. In a multi-cultural, multi-religious society such as Singapore, it is taken for granted. Secularism is so much a part of the substratum of politics here that one does not even consider the dangers of a non-secular theological state.

One cannot be overly complacent about unholy alliance between the church and the state. Such alliances have never been spiritually fruitful and have always been instrumental in facilitating some form of tyranny or other… I was just reading some of the works of James Madison and came across the following. Its from an address by him to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virgia in 1785. Americans today are faced with the dangerous enchroachment of right wing religious groups into the political arena. This observation of James Madison from 221 years ago has not been proven wrong despite the passage of time.

“What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society?

In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries.

A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another.”

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