The national conversation about making Christianity the official religion of Samoa is making other minority religions in the country nervous.
That’s why the call by the Secretary General of the National Council of Churches (N.C.C), Reverend Ma’auga Motu, to ban Islam has been received with such trepidation by non-Christians in Samoa.
Besides Islam, there are other religious minorities on the island.
One is the religion of Hinduism. The polytheistic religion has in fact more than one thousand followers across Samoa, with most of them coming from Fiji, where a big number of Hindus lives.
Among them is Prem Vadhya, a Hindu who has lived in Samoa for more than six years.
The man has, together with his boss started a successful and well-known business in Samoa’s capital city: Tifaimoana Motel and Indian Restaurant.
Mr. Vadhya, who works there as the Restaurant Manager, came from the India metropolis Mumbai to the Samoan archipelagic to serve the people all the culinary specials of his home country.
An endeavour, that can be seen as successful.
“We have many happy customers here and I think our food is a very special thing here in Samoa,” he said.
But with the possible ban of Mr. Vadhya’s religion in Samoa, this six-year long friendship with the Samoan people could come to a sudden end.
“If this situation come up and they really want to make me decide between living in Samoa or practising my religion, I might have to leave. Because, this is not the way I want to live, and I think nobody wants to become a servant in any kind of sense.”
Mr. Vadhya pointed out that many other people would be forced to face a great loss.
“I have friends and family here, and in the last six years of my life, Samoa has become my home. I know Samoa as a very friendly nation and I am sure they will not agree on such a change of the Constitution.”
Asked about calls to ban Islam, the man from Mumbai said this is hard to fathom.
“I do not understand this behaviour, because we are not the bad people here,” he said.
“We are working like everybody else and there is no fighting or trouble of any kind going on. It is also not our intention to change anybody’s religion here. Everybody should believe in what he thinks is the best faith for him.
“For me, god is inside the heart, and therefore the people who live next to you should be treated as human beings, no matter what they believe in.”
This week, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, reaffirmed his government’s intention to amend the Constitution to make Christianity the official religion of Samoa.
But he wouldn’t say whether the government would entertain a call by the National Council of Churches to ban other religions like Islam.
Tuilaepa said that Samoa must be cautious about embracing religions that promote violence and ‘murderous rage’ as a form of worship.
Christianity, he said, does not do this. And this is why it’s important that the Constitution of Samoa is amended to reflect that Samoa is undoubtedly a Christian country.
“The government will make the amendment to the Constitution to put it boldly in the Constitution’s body that the official religion of Samoa is Christianity,” he said.
“The Preamble has no power so it must be embedded in the Constitution’s body.”
Looking at developments in other countries, Tuilaepa said the country’s leaders are monitoring global developments and they are alarmed at the amount of bloodshed by religions that encourage this as a form of worship.
He did not name any particular religion but he pointed to what is happening in the Middle East and terror attacks elsewhere near and far. According to the Prime Minister, there is nothing wrong with the Constitution but there is a clearly a need to make changes to reflect the situation of today.