Sunvoice

Church Must State Its Unambiguous Position About Politics

A circular written in iTaukei and sent to all Methodist Church ministers by the church’s secretary of social welfare, Rev Iliesa Naivalu, reveals the true position of church in relation
25 Sep 2014 09:21
Church Must State Its Unambiguous Position About Politics
Robert Emerson Amos served in the US military before settling down in Fiji.

A circular written in iTaukei and sent to all Methodist Church ministers by the church’s secretary of social welfare, Rev Iliesa Naivalu, reveals the true position of church in relation to politics.

It seems that the church has reneged on a commitment to stay away from party politics. The anti-Government , anti-Constitution and anti-non Christian sentiments expressed in the circular could be mistaken for a political party manifesto. The document is laced with racial and religious overtones.

The fact that the circular, dated  September 3, was distributed before the election, was clearly aimed at influencing Methodist voters. It is opposed to the secular state. It rejects that religious belief is personal  saying that Christianity is a community of faith. Because of its historical record, the circular said Christianity should be recognised in the Constitution. It opposes the separation of the state and religion

The circular expresses concern over the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs, perceived changes in the iTaukei Land Trust Board, iTaukei Affairs laws, scholarships, Land Use Decree, common name and what it calls the attack on all iTaukei institutions.

It talks about multiracialism, religious tolerance and living together in harmony on one hand. On the other hand, it contradicts itself by rejecting a common identity and making a distinction between Christianity and what it describes as those who worship idols.

The  leadership of the church needs to come out and declare its position so that the public knows where it stands. Would it dissociate itself from Rev Naivalu and say he is a bit of a loose canon or would it endorse everything he said?

Rev Naivalu’s ‘Holier than thou’ attitude does not promote religious tolerance. In fact it could incite religious intolerance. The insensitive nature of his circular forgets that within the church there are non-iTaukei members who may be wondering what is going on.

Rev Naivalu and others like him should now realise that the majority of people in this country, both Methodists and non-Methodists, showed in the election they did not accept the content of the circular. By voting for FijiFirst, the people have shown they support the secular state, the common name, equal citizenry, protection of land and iTaukei rights in the Constitution and the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs. Under the Secular State, churches are free to exercise their religion. There is no threat against which God they want to worship.

Christians can still worship Jehovah and Jesus Christ. If Rev Naivalu had attended the Thanksgiving service for the release of the captured 45 Golan Heights Fijian soldiers in Suva, he would have witnessed that Christians played a prominent role in the inter-faith service where Jehovah and Jesus Christ were on the lips of many who attended. Sadly, while ordinary Methodists attended, no prominent member of the church hierarchy was present despite being invited to participate in the programme.

The signal from headquarters may be confusing to members. It’s time the church publicly declares its official position without any ambiguity.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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