Poll: Secular State or Subtle Theocracy? Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta

Article 2 of the Constitution states the following:

(1) The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion.

(2) The authorities of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are wrong.

(3) Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory education.

In simple and crude terms this Article imposes upon an entire nation a specific belief-system, a.k.a state religion. Furthermore it gives to the Roman Catholic Church unfettered constitutional authority in matters of ethics and morality which it would obviously interpret and preach according to its dogma. This is a big reason why it proving to be so difficult to introduce basic civil rights, such as divorce, in Malta. Sub-article (3) is self-explanatory.

I fully respect and would also defend the Church's right to participate in social discourse as well as its right to publicly preach its values through its institutions. However:

I believe that the Roman Catholic faith is one creed amongst many which should be respected and tolerated in equal measure. It should not be singled out by the State, despite the fact that it is the most popular religion;

I believe in a secular state which takes decisions without recourse to religious doctrine This Article begs the question as to whether Malta is truly secular or what I term a 'subtle theocracy';

I believe that choosing one's religion is ultimately a private choice made by mature individuals and should never be imposed at birth. Catholic morality is not a universal answer to moral problems but only one of many answers and should likewise never be imposed upon anyone;

I believe that religion as an academic subject shouldn't be exclusively about the Roman Catholic faith but about different belief systems, how they came about and how they affect people's lives. The sociological, anthropoligical and psychological perspectives of religion should therefore accompany the theological perspective.

This is why I voted yes to repealing Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta in the poll to the right.

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One Response to Poll: Secular State or Subtle Theocracy? Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta

Fausto Majistral said...

Read article 40, the one that matters, and you'll find that the Constitution imposes no specific "belief system" on anyone.

The "difficulty" you mention in introducing divorce is not due to article 2 but to the simple fact that most Maltese, possibly a small absolute majority, are against it ... a state of affairs which is reflected in the possibility that most MPs on both sides of the House are against too.

And if you're getting so hot about having a "secular state" keep in mind that the UK is constitutionally less secular than Malta. Which, of course, does not matter much.

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