PM's aides orders St John's Cathedral to remove crucifixes and banning of singing hymns at St John's Cathedral constitute a violation of religious freedom guaranteed under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution
By Dr. Chen Man Hin (DAP Life Advisor)
The excuse given by the PM's aides that the cruciffixes would be offensive to the Prime Minister while visiting the church and grounds borders on the ridiculous.
Malaysia has diplomatic relations with many Christian countries in the West, South America and the Phillipines. Crucifixes decorate many public buildings in these countries. Would the aides issue orders to Christian countries in the West and South America to take down or remove the crucifixes when the Prime Minister of Malaysia visits the said countries?
Church buildings and grounds are sacred areas to Christians especially Catholics. Crucifixes are sacred. So are the religious rites and singing of hymns. Forcible removal of crucifixes in churches would constitute an act of sacriliege. The orders by the PM's aides are therefore sacrilegious.
The Prime Minister is most welcome to visit churches and meet the priests and parishioners. No conditions should be imposed, as freedom to practice religion is guaranteed under the Constitution.
It is the practice in churces all over the world to keep their doors open to churchgoers and visitors all day, as long as they show decorum and respect for the sancitity of the church building and its grounds.
The PM's aides should take a tour of Christian countries in Europe, USA and South America or secular Singapore. It will open up their minds and see how religious freedom is practised. Their backward outlook is an anachronism in a world where races, religions and cultures interact and mix. They need to change or we risk becoming isolationist and disconnected with the rest of the world.