The nationalization of religion: cultural performances and the youth of Soka Singapore

by Jayeel Serrano Cornelio

Working Papers WP 13-17
October 2013
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Soka is known in Singapore for its cultural performances in events such as the National Day Parade and Chingay. This is part of Soka’s attempts to present itself as a cultural organization working for peace and progress in Singapore. Participating in these performances is common among the youth of Soka. In this paper I focus on young people’s participation as a form of religious patriotism. For them, it is about sending a message that individual and collective struggles can be overcome and that peace and harmony can be fostered. I then analyze these nuances in terms of the nationalization of religion, which is defined here as the process in which the secularist interests of the state are articulated and enacted by religious entities participating in cultural performances. Put differently, such cultural performances by religious entities are shrouded in a nationalistic character that renders the religious significantly invisible and the prevailing political order unquestioned.

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