Who said the church and state are supposed to be separate entities?

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 09 February 2017, 12:00AM

The outpouring of support and admiration for the government’s push to amend the Constitution to declare Samoa officially as a Christian state has been overwhelming.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is without a doubt the man of the moment. He is being hailed by church leaders in all corners of this country as savior of Samoa for initiating what they say is something that should have been done a long time ago.

But that’s to be expected of course in a country like Samoa where more than 99 per cent of the population are self-confessed Christians. 

The admiration is without a doubt deserving especially when just about everybody believes that this is a God-ordained move. Given the unquestionable commitment of our people to their churches and beliefs, it would be very hard to argue.

It means anything you say against or even to remotely question the popular status quo would be seen as an affront to the almighty. 

Which is sad but very telling of what Samoa has become today. As a one-party state, it is one of the symptoms we should expect.

When people have been brainwashed for so long, their ability to critically analyse a situation disappears and they will find it a lot easier to subscribe to a school of thought that’s forced down their throats than to be objective and think critically.

Now whoever said the church and state are supposed to be separate entities would be most unpopular on these shores now. He/she might even risk the wrath of this church going nation.

For the undeniable truth is that the church and the government in Samoa have become one. And because they are bed buddies, we have inevitably reached a stage where politics and religion can no longer be separated. 

Indeed, when you add the use of God’s name in the mix, it becomes even more complicated. After all who would dare question God? 

And who would be brave enough in Samoa to stand up to the church leaders to tell them that what they are doing is wrong?

I’ve watched some of the local TV debates, listened to radio talk back shows over the past few weeks and how most commentators have spoken out against Muslims being a threat to Samoa.

To me this is one of the saddest aspects about this debate. It is the amount of hatred and ill feelings that is being created towards people who don’t subscribe to what the government and the church are doing. 

To be brutally frank, such a suggestion is ridiculous. We are talking about less than one per cent of the population. People who are quietly going about their business and yet they have suddenly become the target of some very ill-willed opinions. 

But it’s not just Muslims who have come under the microscope in Samoa. It’s anyone else who is outside of the so-called Christian circle including Bahai followers, Mormons and others.

What have they done to deserve this? Are not these people Samoans too? Did their forefathers and forebears not play a part in developing this nation we are proud to call our own? 

The worry is that regardless of what the government is saying about the amendment, the fact is a person’s freedom to choose and to worship will inevitably be affected. Which is a sad, sad day for this country.

Our forebears will be turning in their graves; they will be very disappointed to know the vision and foundation upon which they established this great country is being trampled upon at the whim of powerful people who obviously think they can do anything and everything.

Now let’s go back to the basics. In this country of Christians we abide by Jesus Christ’s teachings of compassion, passive resistance, forgiveness, love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And yet something is sadly amiss in the Christian make-up of Samoan society today. 

We’ve lost count of the number of fatal attacks reported over the recent months. Then there have been so many suicides among young people and grown up adults. Incest has also been rising. Young girls are being sexually molested by their own fathers or grown relatives. 

This has become so commonplace. And so has theft, robbery, rape and other heinous crimes.  

Which begs the question, is it really the Muslims or foreign beliefs we should be worried about? Let me rephrase that, what is going on this country “Founded on God” today? 

What triggers a man to commit a violent act in blind fury, or another to take advantage of his young daughter and messes her up for the rest of her life? 

What moves a young girl to commit the ultimate act of ending her life? Why have our people found it so easy to steal and rob other people of their valued possessions?

What about cases of adultery and immoral sexual relationships both in the church and the state? What is being done to stem the hurt, the huge emotional cost and the suffering being inflicted on our people?

If the government is successful in amending the Constitution – which they will of course given they have the numbers – how will that help change the ugly situation we have found ourselves in?

Lastly, if doing what is right by God is the church’s main focus, why has the church been so silent on corruption, collusion and the abuse of positions that has been allowed to continue in the halls of power, hurting God’s poor people in the process? And what is the church doing about the plight of the poor people in Samoa who are screaming out for help everyday? Do they care? 

Tell us what you think!

Have a great Thursday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 09 February 2017, 12:00AM

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