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COUNCIL PLANS CHURCH WATCH

  The Fiji Council of Churches (FCC) plans to liaise and work with Government to vet new Christian churches. This follows the negative publicity about some small groups whose religious
25 Oct 2016 11:00
COUNCIL PLANS CHURCH WATCH
Pastor Iowane Vakadranu outside Court

 

The Fiji Council of Churches (FCC) plans to liaise and work with Government to vet new Christian churches.

This follows the negative publicity about some small groups whose religious practices have come under the spotlight after the conviction of their leaders for sexual crimes.

Pastor Iowane Vakadranu, leader of the Back to Eden Church, was jailed for the rape of young women in the group.

There is concern that some small groups could give the Christian fraternity a bad wrap.

Reverend Tevita Banivanua, Methodist Church president  and the new president of FCC, revealed the council’s plans yesterday after he was officially welcomed in an induction service at Centenary Methodist Church in Suva on Sunday.

“We are trying to negotiate with Government to work with us and the experiences we have in order to help out in this area, thinking it will be better for Fiji,” Reverend Banivanua said.

This, he said, would include the licensing of pastors which was also monitored by Government.

“The council would like to have a closer look and scrutiny on their teachings just to enable us to talk with them on what they would like to do in the communities in Fiji,” he said.

Reverend Banivanua hopes that through this channel, the council would be able to liaise more with these non-mainstream churches on their teachings and practices.

“We can talk more and give advice as we are sort  of the watchdog in this area on trying to make the Christian community in Fiji better related to the issues of the day rather than being law breakers,” he said.

Reverend Banivanua said any Christian church registered as a religious organisation was qualified to join the FCC as a member.

He said previously the council used to perform similar roles in monitoring churches but was changed over the years.

“Whenever there was a new church, the old groups in the council would sponsor them and state that they will keep a watch on how they would relate with the other churches and with the laws of Fiji,” he said.

“That used to be the way before and then sometime I don’t know which Government –  they took it back which caused the sudden rise in numbers.”

Reverend Banivanua said some of these churches were not even registered as religious organisations and were registered as companies but were doing religious work.

Government currently regulates religious organisations through the Religious Bodies Registration Act.

This legislation provides recognition for religious bodies and allows Fijians to freely express their beliefs in a legally recognised manner.

“We will be meeting next in November and hopefully we will have that as an agenda item where we can talk about that in detail,” he said.

The vice-president and also a trustee of the council is Major Uraia Dravikula; general secretary, Reverend Simione Tugi of the Fiji Evangelical Fellowship; treasurer and  a trustee, Reverend Bruce Edwards of the Fiji Community Churches of Christ.

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback:  filipe.naigulevu@fijisun.com.fj

 

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