From ‘We welcome criticism within constraints, says Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong’, 23 Jul 2015, article in CNA
The governing authorities are open to criticism, but the ability to exercise of the freedom of expression comes with limits, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, referencing the cases of bloggers Amos Yee and Roy Ngerng. Yee received a four-week jail sentence for posting an obscene image online and posting content intended to hurt the religious feelings of Christians – a sentence and conviction he is appealing.
“In our society, which is multiracial and multi-religious, giving offence to another religious or ethnic group, race, language or religion, is always a very serious matter. In this case, he’s a 16-year-old, so you have to deal with it appropriately because he’s (of a) young age,” Mr Lee said in an interview with Time, published on Thursday (Jul 23).
The peaceful co-existence of religions is something that takes work, the Prime Minister said.
“Overall, we think religion is a good thing. I mean, if we were godless society, we would have many other problems, the communists found that out,” said Mr Lee.
“But religion is a good thing provided we are able to bridge the differences between our different faiths, provided there’s give-and-take, provided we are able to get along together and not offend each other by aggressive proselytisation, by denigrating other faiths, by being separate and, therefore, having suspicions of one another, which can easily happen,” he added.
Well, religion is awesome, as 50,000 Christians proved to PM Lee when he joined the godly masses for the Jubilee Day of Prayer. It’s also great to see different faiths coming together and praying to purge evil spirits from suicide reservoirs. I can’t imagine what Singapore would be like if we all didn’t believe in the Almighty; no heritage churches, Sultan Mosque, temples. No multimillionaire pastors. No Lawrence Khong magic shows. Gasp, no Sun Ho! We’ve got 99 problems but God ain’t one.
PM Lee’s reference to ‘godlessness’ echoes his father’s sentiments towards the Red Scourge back in 1964, which he calls ‘a godless philosophy that leads to trouble’. Soviet communism has given atheism a bad name, and has been described as an ideology that started on a godless premise. The same term was used to describe the Nazis, though both regimes had similar elements of worship and idolatry – the deification of Lenin and Hitler come to mind. Atheism has since been recognised as philosophy based on logic and science rather than violent heresy, and the word ‘godless’ itself was just another Dark Ages relic label like ‘infidel’, until its resurgence around 1958 as this Ngrams graph shows. This was around the time the USSR launched Sputnik, and Fidel Castro took control of Cuba.
Today, despite their inherent godlessness, we see branded Che Guevara images and ‘Hitler chic’, with its Nazi themed cafes, weddings and even cosplay. Mao propaganda posters have become hip marketing gimmicks. Godless commies have become trivialised in pop culture, though our Government refuses to let it go still. Look what happened to ‘To Singapore With Love’, banned like an exorcist casting away Satan. Even if we don’t worship a literal supernatural father figure, there’s one god that every successful, capitalist country, especially one among the richest nations in the world, looks up to in reverence: Money. Or at least a personification of money. Like Cai Shen Ye.
Unless there is anthropological evidence that any society without the pillar of monotheistic faith is doomed to fail, with or without the godless Red Star Armies, our PM’s assertion on the social advantages of religion as compared to no religion, remains up for debate. Religion has its share of problems, obviously, if you think of all the horrific tragedies in human history , from the Crusades to ISIS, done ‘in the name of God’. Wonder what PM Lee’s sister, a self proclaimed ‘atheist’ thinks about elder brother’s quip. As for life without God, we can only for now, well, Imagine.