Friday, August 31, 2012

Zambian bishops: “We shouldn't call ourselves a Christian nation in the new Constitution”

For the Catholic Church in Europe, the refusal to include a reference to Europe’s “Jewish-Christian roots” in the preamble of the European Constitution - which was later scrapped - remains an open wound.

But Zambia’s bishops have taken a diametrally opposite stance to this controversial matter.

"In the preamble, the declaration that Zambia is a Christian nation should be omitted," the bishops state in the document sent to the Technical Committee in charge of writing the new Constitution. 
The reason for this to some extent controversial refusal is simple: “a Country cannot practice the values and precepts of Christianity, by a mere declaration,” prelates explain in their declaration.
Furthermore, given that the Church believes “the principle of separation between State and Religion must not be lost,” to define Zambia as a “Christian nation” would be to contradict the recognised fact that “Zambia is a multi-religious Country” - a fact that was recognized in the preamble of the first draft of the Technical Committee.
Bishops reminded that today in Zambia abortion is permitted albeit in certain limited cases and so is the death penalty. 

“Under no circumstances should the Constitution contain any clauses defending the death penalty, abortion or euthanasia,” prelates stressed.
Bishops also asked for new citizenship regulations and more stringent controls on the exploitation of the country’s natural resources. 
Zambia - where Christianity is practiced by the majority (85-95%) of the population depending on the sources consulted – has been trying to create a new Constitution for years. 

This is currently its third attempt to write a Charter of fundamental rights which everyone in the country agrees with.
The first attempt was made in 1996 when the then president, Frederick Chiluba, a former Communist who converted to evangelical Christianity, had tried to include a reference to the country’s Christian roots in the Constitution. 

On that occasion too, Catholic bishops were firmly against the idea.

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