Sunvoice

Position Of Faiths In Detention Of Fijian Peacekeepers Reassuring

The faiths have spoken. They do not want religion to be dragged into politics in the controversy over the detention of 45 Fijian Golan peacekeepers by al-Nusra Front rebels. Christians
08 Sep 2014 07:47
Position Of Faiths In Detention Of Fijian Peacekeepers Reassuring
Suva City Council workers clearing the fullen tree at Holland street in Suva on 20, October 2021. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

The faiths have spoken. They do not want religion to be dragged into politics in the controversy over the detention of 45 Fijian Golan peacekeepers by al-Nusra Front rebels. Christians and non-Christians including Hindus and Muslims have joined hands to condemn any attempt to bring religion into the equation of the negotiations to free our troops.

Their comments come in the wake of controversial statements attributed to former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, that there could be a backlash against the Muslim community in Fiji if the soldiers were harmed by their captors, who are Islamic extremists. Mr Rabuka has since said that his statement was misunderstood.

In coming together in solidarity, the various faiths have declared that the Golan incident was political and had nothing to do with religion. They resent the notion that it has religious implications.

Their unity augers well for religious tolerance in this country. Because of the huge influence they have on their devotees, their counsel is widely respected and recognised. In the event of developments in the Golan going the wrong way, we can be rest assured that the faiths will close ranks and ensure that any eventuality will be handled with sensitivity.

Their position also helps to calm things down in this election where desperate politicians to woo voters have used race and religion.

Faiths know  that their power and influence over the people come with responsibility. Over the years some religious officials have fallen into the trap and found themselves involved in politics. They did it without realising the damage they have done not only to the faith but to members also.

Religious tolerance runs into jeopardy when religious principles are compromised. Many faiths  teach the same spiritual principles and values. When these principles and values are not in harmony with secular activities there could be complications. There are many provisions of this Constitution that agree with principles and values of the various religious texts.

Take for example the provision about equality. In the holy writ, it says we are equal before God. Equal citizenry, therefore, is in harmony with it. The non-discriminatory provisions of the Constitution are also consistent with this value.

The provision for a secular state in the Constitution is ideal because it separates the state from religion.  Every  faith has the freedom to exercise its religion and worship God(s) provided it does not impose it on others. The biblical reference  to render unto Caeser what is Caeser’s and to God what is God’s applies in principle to the relationship between the State and the faiths.

Secular matters should be best handled by the State and by the same token, religious issues are best dealt with by the faiths.

The clear boundary removes any complications that have caused problems in the past. The 1987 and 2000  political upheavals were complicated by religious involvement in situations that were strictly political.

Hopefully, we have learned from out past experience. We have learned that discriminatory policies can give rise to religious bigotry and extremism. We have witnessed this in the past.

The faiths’ commitment to keep religion out of politics is welcomed and will go a long way to reinforcing peace and harmony in this country.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 



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