Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta states:

"(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."

I cannot see how an abstract concept like a country can have a religion. People follow religions, countries do not.

Now, short of forcing every citizen to follow the teaching of the Church, as practised in theocracies through religious police, I do not think this article can be applied to all citizens.

The article states that the Church has a "duty and a right to teach". And this is fair. The Church and its members should have every opportunity and be given every right to do this; however, nowhere does it say that the citizen has to learn or believe these teachings.

The citizen is free to accept or reject the teachings of the Church and with this freedom comes the right to comment if they infringe perceived universal human rights.

On Article 2 (3), one has to feel for the family who through no fault of its own has to enrol its child in a state school. This point assumes that private schools can opt out of teaching the Roman Catholic faith! This seems like an injustice.

What is so often offensive about many, but not all religious people, is their insistence on forcing their views and values on those around them as if they have a monopoly on morality. It is as though without the Church these people would have no morality to guide their lives. They assume that moral living is achieved only through the Catholic Church.

These same few find it difficult to realise that atheists and non-Catholics really do not mind if religious people practised their faith and followed the Church's teachings. The objection arises when there is an insistence that these teachings and values are imposed on them.

The Maltese claim to be a hospitable and welcoming people, tolerant and even accommodate other cultures. Why is it such a hurdle to let non-believers have the opportunity to live without being burdened by, for example, loveless marriages?

Why cannot the Church accommodate people who have different sexual orientations? Why must those who claim to be loving and caring deny others a fulfilling life?

These issues and more, if considered thoughtfully, will not diminish the Church among the faithful but I dare say strengthen it.

A strong Church is not measured by the number of faithful but by the quality of those faithful. And what is this idea of a strong Church anyway? Why must a Church be strong? Why can't it just be a Church?

The fact that Christianity has such a strong hold is because, until recently, to claim not being Christian meant you were risking being put to the sword, or burnt at the stake.

Those days are long gone. People are tired of being told how to think. What do you think?

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