A few winters back I spent some December days in the cities of Southeast Asia. Not far from the storied Raffles Hotel in Singapore, there is a city block with Buddhist temples alongside a mosque and a Christian church, with a Hindu temple and a synagogue not far away.

The city’s population is mainly Chinese, hence Buddhist or Taoist, but it is a notably cosmopolitan city – about one in six people, according to the 2010 census, is of Christian denomination.