Secularism and Religious Modernity in Sri Lanka and Singapore: Trans-regional Revivalism Considered View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:Chapter     


Chapter Info

DATE

2019

AUTHORS

Neena Mahadev

ABSTRACT

Christians and Buddhists differently figure Singapore as a site of religious transmission and receptivity. During a famed mission in the late 1970s, Billy Graham prophesied that Singapore would become the “Antioch of Asia”—connoting a hub for evangelical Christian expansion (Goh 2005; Debernardi 2008). Yet, since the turn of the millennium, a remarkable trans-regional and trans-sectarian convergence has also been taking place within Singaporean Buddhism, wherein some Anglophone Chinese-Singaporeans self-reflexively characterize themselves as “Born-again Buddhists.” Having once been “nominal Buddhists,” they now see themselves as “disciples” of the Dhamma (Pali: Buddha’s teachings) as a result of revelations of English-speaking Theravadin teachers. These Anglophone Chinese-Singaporeans express that the Buddhism of their birth buries the Dhamma in a complex of Mahayana–Daoist rituals that renders the Dhamma opaque. While Singaporean cemeteries are being exhumed due to land scarcity, and knowledge of domestic ancestral rites is being lost, anxieties about proper care for the dead are arguably left unmitigated by Daoist-Mahayana Buddhism. Addressing these anxieties, Sri Lankan Theravadin monks concertedly offer a simplified rebirth cosmology and merit-transfer rituals. I explore the implications of Dhammic revelations and their propagation in Singapore, with its strict anti-proselytization policies aimed to maintain inter-religious harmony, compared with Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country which recently saw a rise of “anti-conversion” activism through which Buddhists sought to curb the growth of Christianity. In doing so, the paper examines different elements of secularism and secularization—in terms of (a) the state’s management of religious plurality and its framing of neutrality, and (b) as a means for practitioners to refashion devotional forms as rational and relevant, particularly in the face of religious competition. More... »

PAGES

287-311

References to SciGraph publications

Book

TITLE

The Secular in South, East, and Southeast Asia

ISBN

978-3-319-89368-6
978-3-319-89369-3

Author Affiliations

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/978-3-319-89369-3_13

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89369-3_13

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1104544514


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