Valentine’s Day is not Christian, says church group

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Christian groups in Malaysia refuted today accusations by Muslim authorities that Valentine’s Day is a Christian event.

“Valentine’s Day is a secular observance, and it is not celebrated religiously by churches in Malaysia, or, in other parts of the world,” said Council of Churches Malaysia general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri in a statement.

“Although the word ‘Valentine’ draws some connection to St. Valentine, the Church’s authorities have not endorsed the connection, be it Roman Catholic or Protestant,” he added.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) said yesterday it will launch an anti-Valentine’s Day campaign, quoting a fatwa issued by the National Fatwa Council in 2005 which called it an immoral Christian celebration.

Valentine’s Day is a global annual celebration of love on February 14 that is rooted in St Valentine, an early Christian martyr who was likely associated with romance only in the 14th century, according to historical records.

A Muslim preacher called Siti Nor Bahyah Mahamood has also linked Christianity with vices in a sermon on the festival.

Siti had said in a television programme aired on TV9 more than a year ago, that “vices, going to discos and to be in remote place with a partner as Christian tradition.”

She also called Valentine’s Day a Christian festival, claiming it started as a celebration to commemorate the fall of the Islamic administration in Spain.

The recording of the show has since been uploaded on video-sharing site YouTube and viewed by close to 100,000 visitors.

Shastri urged the religious authorities today to refute the allegation that Christianity promoted sexual promiscuity through Valentine’s Day.

“To suggest that Valentine’s Day is observed by Christians, in the said Fatwa is unfair and misleading,” said Shastri.

“They have erred in their inference, and therefore has hurt the religious feelings of Christians in the country,” he added.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) also disputed links of the popular romantic celebration to Christianity.

“We strongly urge that better research be done and no mistake be made of linking the Christian faith to Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated publicly in many countries today and not just in the West,” said CFM chairman Bishop Ng Moon Hing in a statement today.

“The Catholic Church has removed the memorial of his (St Valentine) feast since the promulgation of the new Roman liturgical calendar in the year 1969, although his name remains on the list of saints and martyrs,” he added.

Ng further lambasted Siti and PAS Youth for associating Christianity with vices through Valentine’s Day.

“Statements which have a tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility against any particular religious community cannot and should not be tolerated,” said Ng.

Both the city Islamic Department (Jawi) and the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) have also banned Muslims from celebrating the festival next Monday.

Jais pointed out today that there were 257,411 births out of wedlock between 2000 and 2008, and blamed Valentine’s Day celebration as one of the causes.

PAS Youth has similarly opposed Valentine’s Day, claiming that it was steeped in immorality.

The Islamist party said it would distribute educational flyers on Valentine’s Day at several locations it had identified as hotbeds of immoral activities.

The PAS Youth campaign was announced after it came under fire for reportedly planning a crackdown on Muslims celebrating the February 14 event.

Taken from Malaysian Insider