Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary general Father Henry Saindi has dismissed assertions that Malawi is not a secular state, saying human rights activists are wrong to conclude so.
Centre for Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence has argued that Malawi is a secular State where religious beliefs and culture should not be used as basis for oppressing others.
But Saindi said when pro-life marchers presented their petition to parliament that a secular state entailed a state without allegiance to any religion and that that it is worldly, unspiritual and irreligious.
“Malawi is not a secular country,” said Saindi. “The fact that we have in our midst some secular individuals doesn’t necessarily mean the whole country is.”
He added: “ In actual fact, it just underlines the fact that faith values are deeply imbedded in our society. We are very accommodative; very tolerant.”
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya said the public needs to be sensitised “to understand the secular nature of our country.”
Mayaya said: “Many people here thought Malawi is a Christian country which is not true, we are a secular state.”
Government also fears the activist are misinterpreting secular status of Malawi and seeks to redefine it to advance an anti-religious agenda.
Christians also claim their rights to freedom of religious conscience have been steadily subordinated to the rights – especially of homosexual people – to equality.
Rights are a matter of balance – the exercise of one person’s rights can undermine those of another.