Sign at the local banana fritter stall. 

Way back when we did the Q and A post, my friend Analisa asked about religion in Singapore, specifically if you can buy Bibles here and witness openly. There are still a lot of details about religion here that we don't know or understand, so this is not a fully-researched dissertation on faith in Singapore, but here are some of the things we've noticed, learned, and read.

From our March all about Singapore post:  
Reportedly, around 51% of resident Singaporeans practice Buddhism and Taoism. About 15% practice Christianity; Muslims constitute 14%; and smaller minorities practice Sikhism, Hinduism and others. About 15% of the population declared no religious affiliation.

Of the 10 public holidays in Singapore, 6 are religious holidays:
  • Good Friday and Christmas Day (Christian)
  • Vesak Day (Buddhist)
  • Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji (Muslim)
  • Deepavali (Hindu)
We definitely find that, in keeping with Singapore's reputation, religion here is respected and all of these groups are treated well. During Deepavali (celebrated on Oct 17 here this year), there were banners and signs all over Singapore (not just in Little India) wishing everyone a Happy Deepavali, and we've seen similar tidings of good will on Hari Raya. Without Thanksgiving to intervene, "Christmas" in Singapore starts today, Nov 1. We'll hear Christmas music and see Christmas decor for the next two months (though, arguably this fact belongs in the "Marketing and Consumption in Singapore" post, rather than this one.)

In traditional Chinese religion (which generally means ancestor worship) the Chinese burn "joss paper" or ghost money on certain holidays to ensure that spirits of the deceased have lots of good things in the afterlife. In Singapore, this is absolutely allowed, but the government and HDB boards designate specific areas for the fires (built in metal drums) that are safe, centrally located, and generally away from windows. I saw an HDB-sponsored poster during the last ghost festival of an Indian family sitting down to dinner while ash from the fires floated in the window. It was asking worshipers to be considerate of the people around them and only use designated drums.

There are plenty of churches in Singapore, there are several Bible colleges, and there's a huge Bible bookstore here. There are both Catholic and Methodist school systems. We also find that people talk about and identify with their religion. At hawker centers and in malls, you'll occasionally see stalls displaying a cross or a crescent to identify themselves with their faith, and of course many stalls identify themselves as halal or warn customers if they aren't. In random conversations that we've struck up, we've had a few people ask us about our religion and what we believe and share their own beliefs. When we were looking at flats, it was not uncommon for the agent to tell us the religion of the neighbors or the owners (we looked at flats with altars in them, so that was pretty clear).

Singapore is very protective of this multi-religious and multiracial society. In June, two Christians were jailed for eight weeks under Singapore's Sedition Act, designed to punish those who stir up feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore. The couple mailed tracts to several Muslim families (who reported them) and were in possession of tracts that were said to be anti-Muslim and anti-Catholic. Common sense, the judge said, dictated that fervor in spreading a faith "in our society, must be constrained by sensitivity, tolerance and mutual respect for another's faith and religious beliefs."