Humanists call for secular Constitution, reject Kmiec proposal
The Malta Humanist Association said today that it was concerned at the direction which the President’s forum for constitutional reform appeared to be taking.
At a public session of the forum last Saturday, former US ambassador Douglas Kmiec recommended the inclusion of a preamble which would refer to the existence of a 'Creator'. That implied, the association said, that the values upon which Malta’s legal system should be based – as well as the authority vested in the Constitution by the Maltese people – should derive directly from religious belief.
"This is a disturbing concept, on at least two counts. One, it is by no means universally accepted that any such creator exists; still less that any one religion in particular represents his wishes on earth. Two, it would be legally and politically unsound to anchor the authority of a national Constitution in any independently existing dogma or belief: more so when this may not be not shared by all sections of the society that same Constitution represents," the association said.
"To do so would be to invite further dissent within an already divided society. Any minority religious denomination (of which there are several), as well as those who do not hold down any religious beliefs at all, would be justified in feeling excluded from the resulting Constitution, leading one to question whether the authority it wields is indeed legitimate."
The association asked what sort of Constitution the President’s forum wished to see enacted. "Do we want a divisive Constitution, which represents the interests only of one section of society, while reducing all others to the status of second class citizens? Or do we want a truly inclusive Constitution that represents all society equally, regardless of creed (or lack thereof)?
"On Saturday, nearly all the speakers concurred that the Maltese Constitution should be a reflection of the people it represents. If this is truly the case, then it should also reflect the growing diversity among that same Maltese people."
It said that no serious study had recently been undertaken to ascertain the precise landscape insofar as local attitudes to religion were concerned.
"In the absence of any conclusive evidence, we can rely only on present indications: all of which point towards an increasingly secular and eclectic society."
Last year’s divorce referendum result alone should point in that direction, it added.
It said it is drawing up its own recommendations for Constitutional reform. Suggestionsmay be sent to [email protected]