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God in the Constitution...?

Giampiero Vassallo

In a secularized world, and in an institution marked by the decline of faith as the supreme principle, why call upon God within the Constitution? Does the "God of the preambles" coincide with the Judaic-Christian deity? Moreover, can we think that the reference to the deity proposed by the existing Constitution has a legal value? Can this lead to a democratic and pluralist system such as the Swiss Confederation? These questions were answered by theologians, philosophers and lawyers of different cultural and religious backgrounds at the conference organized by the Adventist Ticino in collaboration with the Faculty of Theology of Lugano on the theme of “God in the Constitution” on Friday, February 17th at the local Adventist church in Lugano.

In the introductory speech, Dr. Gianfranco Rossi, emeritus AIDLR Secretary General, said that "The state should be a home shared by all citizens. This means that in every country, ideological pluralism should be fully accepted in law and in practice. The different world views, religious or atheist, should have the right to exist, to be expressed and asserted, but with mutual respect. None should use government influence to suppress others or to prevent free speech and action."

The Honourable Carlo Luigi Caimi, vice president of the Special Constitution Committee and Political Rights of the Grand Council of the Canton Ticino, spoke of the reasons for the absence of reference to God in the Constitution of Ticino, this canton is well known as being very secular.

Professor Sadun Bordoni (University of Teramo) learned the lesson from the great German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who believed that there has to be a double effort by both the secular and religious. The secular should be more open to the religious concept and, in turn, the religious must be more open to pluralism.

Prof. Becchi (University of Lucerne) pointed out that if there were references to God in the Constitution or not, the most important point is knowing the other forms of expression to the divine, including for example, the importance of human dignity from conception to a natural death.

The Protestant theologian and journalist Paul Tognina, spoke of the objections to the reference to God in the Constitution and the responsibility the Churches in global awareness.

 Responsibility means to defuse conflicts, end mutual abuse and show how to live together in harmony.

Finally Prof. Pacillo (Faculty of Theology of Lugano) stressed the need for pluralism to deepen the values ​​of the Swiss Constitution.

Pastor David Jennah (President of the Swiss Union) was also present and acted as moderator during the first session of the conference.