Singapore prides itself on its religious diversity and tolerance. Considering this as well as the diversity of Singapore’s population, it did not come as a huge surprise when a 2014 Pew Research report came out stating that Singapore is the most religiously diverse country in the world.
The study, performed by the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC, ranked countries on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most diverse. The study measured the Religious Diversity Index (RDI) based on the percentage of the population who fell into the following categories: Buddhists, Christians, folk religions, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, other religions (considered as a group) and the religiously unaffiliated. Singapore scored 9 on the RDI out of 232 countries in the study.
According to the 2015 Singapore General Household Survey, the city-state is 33% Buddhist, 14% Islamic, 19% Christian, 11% Taoist and 5% Hindu, and 18% claim no religious beliefs (Note: the Pew and Household Survey data do not include non-residents, who make up nearly 20% of the Singapore’s population). This religious diversity can be seen all over the island: a three-block walk down South Bridge Street from Cross Street to Smith Street in Chinatown will pass the Masjid Jamae Mosque, the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple – all along the same street.
Another great neighbourhood to appreciate Singapore’s religious diversity is Little India. The National Heritage Board recently curated three Little India Heritage Trail walking tours to encourage tourists to see more of the area. The Walk of Faiths passes 11 religious buildings including the Abdul Gafoor Mosque, the Church of the True Light, the Foochow Methodist Church, several temples and more.
Singapore also encourages religious diversity by celebrating dates and events significant to each group. Public holidays include everything from Easter to Hari Raya to Diwali, and community associations concurrently organise large-scale events around holidays like Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Puasa, so residents can spend these important days with their loved ones regardless of their beliefs.