NOTE FROM ADMIN: Following the ordainment of Father William Goh as Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore on 22 February, the Humanist Society (Singapore) sent this letter to Father Goh on 27 February to extend our congratulations. An edited version was sent to TODAY Voices last week but it was declined for publishing due to the large volume of other letters received by the newspaper last week.
Morality and ethics possible without religion
The Humanist Society (Singapore) extends our congratulations to you on your appointment as Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore on 22 February 2013.
With regards to the speech you made on the occasion, as reported by the Channel NewsAsia on 23 February 2013 (“New Catholic Archbishop meets political and religious leaders”), the Humanist Society (Singapore) supports your acknowledgement of a clear separation between church and state. We also share your view that all of society’s stakeholders, whether they be the State, your Church or ordinary individuals, must work together to achieve justice, harmony and progress for the common good of society.
In the same article, you were quoted as saying, “…and so without religion, without faith in the absolute, because God is the absolute, then we don’t have an objective foundation for moral values.” On this point, we respectfully disagree that persons lacking religion or a church, also lack an objective moral foundation on which to lead their lives in a good and fulfilling manner.
At the Humanist Society (Singapore), we take the view that every person is capable of leading upstanding and ethical lives – regardless of religious or spiritual affiliation – guided by reason, inspired by compassion and informed by experience and evidence. In Singapore, a multi-religious society, we all have dear friends, neighbours, co-workers and family members of various religions. We believe that there is space for all to live respectfully and to learn from each other how to lead happy, fulfiling and uplifting lives.
It is in this spirit of reflection and shared knowledge that we invite you and your congregation to a dialogue with us on morality and ethics, or to participate in one of our many activities in the course of this year, so that we can learn from each other how we can all live more meaningful, moral and compassionate lives, regardless of religious affiliation.
We hope to hear from you soon, and once again we wish you all the best in your future endeavours as Archbishop of Singapore.
Humanist Society (Singapore)