There is a common refrain in intellectual circles: the modern world has abandoned religiosity. Proof, supposedly, is in the sky-rocketing rates of atheism and declining church attendance. Is secularism here to stay or is religion on the rise? HIR Staff examine this question.
Revival of the Fittest
As of three years ago, almost seventy-eight percent of the Singapore population had access to the Internet; two years ago, statistics suggested that the Internet’s household penetration rate was over one hundred percent in the developing Asian nation, making it one of the best in the world. Curiously enough, this increased global connection wasn’t the only sociological phenomenon that enjoyed an upward trend: to the chagrin of traditional secularization theorists, Singapore prided itself in ascribing to ten major world religions, and Christianity and Islam in particular displayed massive growth during a decade of modernization. Said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech in 2009: “Singapore is carried along by this global tide [of religious fervor]”. According to him, Buddhism has become especially popular among young people with English educations, but all religions (Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity) are overflowing with new attendees.
The past few years saw the rise of Facebook and Twitter, as well as the eagerness of eighty-five percent of Singapore to identify with a major religion that embraced the advancement in electronics as a godsend. “It has always been the emphasis of the Church that we have to move with time and try to make full use of modern technology, and the Internet is one of them to relate with people and also to share faith in God,” explained a Singaporean Protestant leader in an interview in 2004. In the same discussion, a Muslim imam offered the opinion that “media is very good […] when you want to try to communicate with one another, then of course, Islam places a lot of importance on the media. As [sic] regards to technology, there’s no quarrel with the advance of technology and Islam, because Islam is always for progress.”