The Malta Humanist Association (MHA), a new organisation aimed at representing Maltese secular humanists and promoting the principles of secular humanism, was launched on 7 April 2010 at Europe House in Valletta.
MHA is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation which aims to further secular humanist thinking in Malta, stimulate local and international discussion and debate on secular issues, and encourage the rediscovery of humanity’s natural ethical and moral values outside the sphere of organised religious belief.
Humanism is an approach to life rooted in reason and the values bequeathed to us by our common ancestry as human beings. As such, it rejects as groundless any superstitious basis for beliefs and opinions. Instead, humanists recognise that moral values are properly founded on human nature and experience. Their decisions and actions will therefore be based on the available evidence and a thorough assessment of the possible repercussions – not on any dogma, superstition, sacred text or ancient tradition.
Humanism encompasses atheism and agnosticism, but is also an active and ethical philosophy in its own right, and as such goes far beyond either of these two negatory viewpoints.
Education and the promotion of knowledge is a primary goal of the world humanist movement, and as such humanists do not reject the wisdom amassed over millennia of religious thinking. The MHA however feels that traditional religious doctrine has become increasingly irrelevant when it comes to explaining the world around us. Scientific knowledge, logic and reason are more relevant to today’s realities than religious dogma.
The Malta Humanist Association currently has an ad hoc organising committee composed of five persons – Godfrey Vella, Raphael Vassallo, Philip Manduca, James Debono and Ramon Casha – with a view to establishing a permanent committee at a date in the near future.
“The need for such an association was felt in part because of a growing tendency to confuse national identity with religious belief,” committee member Raphael Vassallo said. “For instance, we were perturbed by recent statements by public figures to the effect that ‘Malteseness’ may somehow be equated with ‘Catholicism’, to the exclusion of non-Catholics. We also reject any notion that ‘Christian values’ are automatically shared by all Maltese citizens alike, and especially the view that no other ethical or moral system can be conceived outside the recognised religious norms.”
The MHA is conscious that Malta is home to a large Christian majority, but points out that it is in the best interests of democracy for minorities to be borne in mind when discussing national issues, and above all when formulating policies and laws which are applicable to all citizens equally, irrespective of the belief-systems they espouse.
“The main purpose of our organisation is to see to it that the secular humanists are represented in a society that has traditionally overlooked their existence, or in some cases even tried to silence them,” Vassallo added.
Apart from the broader aims listed above, MHA will work towards a number of short-, medium- and long-term goals. These include:
Membership is free and open to all those who share the basic principles of secular humanism. However, the MHA strongly recommends that interested parties read and agree with its mission statement, available for viewing on www.maltahumanist.org, before deciding to join.
Instructions on how to join the association are also available on the same website.
For further information, feel free to send an email to