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Rule of Law, Religious Liberty, and Harmony

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Multiculturalism, Legal Pluralism, and the Singapore Model of Accommodative Secularism

This article examines the state of regulation of religion within Singapore, which is the world’s most religiously diverse country. It considers how fundamental principles of the rule of law, religious liberty and legal pluralism operate within the constitutional order predicated on communitarianism and accommodative secularism. While the rule of law seeks to vindicate a range of values which requires sameness and satisfies claims for inclusion, limits to it through exemptions and accommodative measures that multiculturalism and pluralism may prescribe can protect differences and satisfy claims to be left alone, outside the sphere of state govenance. Drawing from Singapore case law, legislation and executive policy, it interrogates the question of whether a policy of multicultural and legal pluralism protective of religious freedom can be reconciled with the rule of law, which in this context is closely associated with the quasi constitutional objective of preserving racial and religious harmony.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore,


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