Churches blame human rights, call for national day of repentance

By Mata’afa Keni Lesa In Honolulu 29 November 2018, 12:00AM

The Chairman of the National Council of Churches, Deacon Kasiano Leaupepe, has blamed human rights for the deteriorating statistics on family violence, calling for a national day of repentance.

He has also criticised the co-education school system, saying boys and girls should be educated separately. According to Deacon Kasiano, the scourge of domestic violence is Samoa’s punishment for disobeying God.

“What has happened to Samoa and her people is because we have violated God’s ordinances. We have destroyed and ignored God’s laws, we place more emphasis on worldly laws,” he said.

“The first commandment, thou shall respect (ava) your parents so you can live longer. This has been violated, it has been destroyed. How? When human right was born, it demolished this ordinance.”

The Chairman made the comments during a session on the topic “Engaging with Religion and Faith-Based Actors to Address Family Violence” at the Ending Violence in Samoa (EViS) roundtable last week. The session was organised by Samoa’s National Human Rights Institution and U.N. Women.

Deacon Kasiano said a Samoan is known by their actions. 

“A lot of people talk about love and respect, that is no longer found in many families.  When a mother, father disciplines their child, the children turns around and sues them and takes them to Court. What happened to God’s law? We have broken our covenant with God.

“The lamp has died. We no longer raise our children in accordance with the scriptures that tell us to raise our children well so that when they grow up they don’t depart from it.”

Deacon Kasiano also criticised Church leaders.

“Church leaders have a role to play, you are shepherds. You are supposed to look after the flock and yet some shepherds have captured the sheep.

“The other cause of the problem is that we have not been honest in doing our work. We as church Ministers must be honest, we must never stop telling our church members what to do. Tell that father, tell that mother, remind them that while they are playing on their phones, their child is going places where he’s not supposed to go. We as Church Ministers are not referees, our role is to kneel down and pray, ask God for assistance.”

It was then the Chairman criticised the co-education school system.

“The problem started when we started to educate boys and girls together. In those days, girls and boys were educated differently. I remember one Father who cautioned me, he said ‘Kasiano you be careful for emotion.’ What is emotion? When a boy and girl rub shoulders, these feelings spring up. Why? Because they are at the same school.

“There is just too much freedom. Samoa has been affected by too much outside influence. We’ve recently commemorated the 100 years of the influenza epidemic, well guess what, domestic violence is a disease God has punished us with. This is a disease. As leaders, we need to repent. Members of the public need to repent for breaking God’s laws.”

So what does he offer as a solution? 

“In my opinion, the Government should request the National Council of Churches to call a national day of repentance before God,” he said. 

“If this is not done, we will never find a solution to this problem. Every village and their Church Ministers should gather on this day, a day of repentance, a day to bow before God to apologise for violating his laws. 

“We need to seek God’s forgiveness for what we have done. God answers to save, God answers to heal, he answers.”

Other Panelists included Dr. Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko, Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma, Judge Talasa Lumepa Saaga and C.E.O. Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo-Afamasaga.

The opportunity was also opened to participants to express their views.

Reverend Vaiao Eteuati, of the Methodist Church, said he accepts that Samoa needs assistance from overseas. However, he pointed to the Samoan proverb, e fofo lava e le alamea le alamea (a problem created locally can be solved locally too). 

“Why should a German come to solve a Samoan problem? We need to solve our own problems, Europeans don’t understand the sensitivities surrounding our way of life, they don’t understand the nuances only you, a Samoan, understands.”

Rev. Moli, of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, said there should be a Ministry of Men. 

“Why do we only have a Ministry of Women? The Ministry of Women blame the men, can somebody tell me why the emphasis is this? What about the men, a family is not just women, it involves a men.”

Rev. Moli also blamed human rights for escalating social problems. 

“When it comes to our societal values, we have become cowards because those societal values have been buried and crushed by human rights,” he said. 

“In the villages, there is a very important value called silence. Silence is an indication of respect and reverence, when a pastor speaks, the village is silent, same as when the chief speaks. Now that value has been removed by human rights.”

Rev. Motu Mauga, of C.C.C.S., said it’s time to stop pointing the finger. 

“Now lets come together and work together. I propose to create a Welfare Committee for each Village because I’m certain no village wants a bad name,” he said. “Such a committee would look after the spiritual side and the physical side. Church Ministers should be there, matai, women, untitled men… This committee should report to the village council meeting every month on the welfare of the people.”

The role of alcohol in family violence was also raised by Rev. Isaia of the C.C.C.S.

“What is the percentage of this violence that is caused by alcohol?” he asked. “I know for a fact a lot of these problems are caused by alcohol and yet the Government is promoting alcohol. 

“They are issuing more licenses to manufacture more alcohol and they are also making whisky from taro. The church seems to have been blamed for not doing anything and yet the Government is continuing to promote alcohol. In my opinion it is only when the Government stops alcohol, then this problem will be solved.”

For Pastor Samoa Unoi of Peace Chapel, he said family violence is not a problem that can be solved by words. 

“The reality is that violence will never end, I prophesy that because we are living in a fallen world, with the fallen nature of man which commits the unlawful acts.

“I believe that without God and his spirit dealing with individual hearts, we can try and preach and nothing will happen. That’s the reality. 

“Call a day of fasting. I suggested this during one of these gatherings and said that God loves fasting and all the lawyers, academics looked at me as if I’m suggesting something that is out of this world. All we can do, is go before God. The problem is that we’ve got so many legislations that’s created problems within families, think of the phones, right of the children, right of this and that, even the animals.”  

By Mata’afa Keni Lesa In Honolulu 29 November 2018, 12:00AM

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