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A Scorecard Of Singapore’s Multicultural and Multi-Religious Bonds

by Yolanda Chin and Norman Vasu
from the Eurasia Review

In light of several incidents touching on race and religion in recent years, it may be tempting to wonder if Singapore’s multicultural harmony has possibly been strained. Such events included but are not limited to a senior pastor of the Lighthouse Evangelism church making disparaging remarks about Buddhists and Taoists in 2010 and former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew calling into question the desire of Muslims to integrate in Singapore in the book Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going.

In an attempt to more systematically discern if there has been such unease, the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) conducted a study of two questions pertaining to the social fabric of Singapore: (1) Have Singapore’s multicultural ties been resilient between 2007 and 2011? (2) Were Malays, Christians and the Chinese consistently less inclusive than non-Malays, non-Christians and non-Chinese respectively between 2007 and 2011?

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Religion In Prison: Pew Forum Releases 50-State Survey Of Prison Chaplains

from Huffington Post

Pew Forum Releases New 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains: Study Provides Rare Window into Religion Behind Bars

Washington, D.C. — From the perspective of the nation’s professional prison chaplains, America’s state penitentiaries are a bustle of religious activity. According to “Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains,” a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, more than seven-in-10 state prison chaplains (73 percent) say that efforts by inmates to proselytize or convert other inmates are either very common (31 percent) or somewhat common (43 percent). About three-quarters of the chaplains say that a lot (26 percent) or some (51 percent) religious switching occurs among inmates in the prisons where they work. Many chaplains report growth from religious switching in the numbers of Muslims and Protestant Christians, in particular.

Overwhelmingly, state prison chaplains consider religious counseling and other religion-based programming an important aspect of rehabilitating prisoners. Nearly three-quarters of the chaplains (73 percent), for example, say they consider access to religion-related programs in prison to be “absolutely critical” to successful rehabilitation of inmates. Among chaplains working in prisons that have religion-related rehabilitation or re-entry programs, more than half (57 percent) say the quality of such programs has improved over the last three years and six-in-10 (61 percent) say participation in such programs has gone up.

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March 25th, 2012 at 7:09 am

Bridging Babel report explores Social Media and Inter-religious Dialogue

Bridging Babel: New Social Media and Interreligious Dialogue and Intercultural Understanding explores how social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube connect users with a culturally diverse audience, allowing for communication at an unprecedented level of speed and accessibility. This report was released by undergraduate fellows at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

The undergraduate fellows conducted 39 in-depth interviews with scholars, religious and interfaith leaders and technology experts. They also conducted a survey at the 2009 World Parliament of Religions in Australia and online through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social media outlets.

Michael Nelson, visiting professor of Internet studies in Georgetown’s communications, culture and technology program, served as faculty advisor on the project.

“Together we’re exploring a brand new field and creating the best available source of information on how – and how not to –use Web 2.0 tools like Facebook to bridge the barriers between people of different faiths,” Nelson said.

While the interviews showed a diverse range of opinions about how to use social media to foster interreligious dialogue, with some saying that only face-to-face dialogue is useful, the report notes that online interaction is the wave of the future.

“Interfaith understanding is about communication, and communication is increasingly about new social media,” notes center director Thomas Banchoff in the report. “If we want to support dialogue across religious divides on the world’s most pressing policy challenges, we need a better grasp of how technology connects people and mobilizes them for action.”

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