The General Secretary of the country’s biggest denomination, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, is concerned.
Reverend Dr. Iutisone Salevao says an over emphasis on human rights is one of the factors leading people to pull away from traditional strengths like the church and family.
This makes them vulnerable to “attack and temptation.”
“Samoa is fighting for its soul,” he says.
“There is too much on human rights when we are lacking in attention to our duties and responsibilities.”
Focusing only on human rights sees “children start to say ‘no’ to their parents, to the church and so forth.
Other people mistakenly think human rights give them the “right” to do anything they want – including misbehaving.
According to the General Secretary, this is one of the hidden costs of modernising Samoa.
Human rights and the freedoms that come with it sometimes bring the “wrong message to some people’s ears, to think wrong, even to abuse their own children.”
But he rejected using human rights as an excuse for doing wrong.
“No,” he says. “That’s stupid! totally wrong.” He was responding to perceptions of an increasing rate of crime, especially indecent assaults, including fathers against their own children.
“So many changes are rushing in from the outside world, changes that will cause us damage, and at the end of the day we are responsible.” He said that human rights also lead people to think they know everything.
“Samoa must look at ways to improve and balance each side, spiritually and physically, and to stop wasting time on nonsense stuff.
The church, he says, should focus on saving souls. “By saving souls, we focus more on principles and values.”
Dr. Salevao is under no illusion about the seriousness of the challenges facing the country today.
“Samoa is fighting for its soul.”
Relatives and men who sexually assault children are worse than animals, he says.
“Animals are better than them.
‘Why? Because animals don’t commit acts on their own offspring like these fathers to their own children.” “It is the lowest thing to do in life.” Churches like the CCCS hold programmes and activities that help minimize crime in the community – but it was up to people to listen. “The church plays a very important role every Sunday, to deliver the message to everyone but it all depends whether the people take it or leave it.
“If they are not used; participating in village cultural activities, if families do not want to hear what the parents teach them, on how to grow or listen to the churches, to build up their spiritual life, then that’s the kind of picture we are looking at,” he said, referring to crime problems.
‘They end up creating one problem after another.” He said there were some people that never listen or use the advice from the church, no matter how hard the church tries.
“It is like the rain that falls off the back of a duck.”
“It is nothing to them.”
He said that the introduction of fast technology and modern ideas was destroying Samoan culture, the church and society.
But he also said personal responsibility was important.
“Everyone must know and understand how to guide their own heart.”
He also acknowledged that churches must be careful too.
He admitted that servants of God are not always angels either.
He called on pastors to preach and show true leadership with the help of the Holy Spirit, and not speak from their own opinions and emotions.