Christian State, sins of a father who does not look like us
Aumuagaolo Ropeti Ale
The recent commentaries in the Village Voice and earlier contributions about mandatory Sunday observance and the role of the Constitution in Samoa as a Christian State are indeed reaffirmation of an earlier decision by our nation’s prime mover, P.M. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and his H.R.P.P. political disciples to officially declare Samoa a Christian State.
The issue, if I remember correctly, was prompted by a Congregational Christian Church leader, a faifeau, about a year or so ago over public concerns over increased threats of terrorism abroad.
The conversation highlights the depth in which colonization and slavery by European Christians in the name of European conceived ideas of the divine and civilization have destroyed our state of mind and the basic structure of Samoan society, the aiga.
Christianity was organized for political reasons. As I have argued before, the state government and organized religion, Christianity, are foreign institutions designed by the Roman Empire and European Christians to organize power and wealth for themselves. The fact that such responsibility today, has fallen perfectly into the hands of Samoan-led state government and Samoan-led Christian churches since decolonization, if one honestly believes that, is not an accident by any stretch of the imagination.
In his book, Political Thinking: The Perennial Questions, Glenn Tinder, a U.C. Berkeley political science professor alludes to long term vision and aspirations of a deteriorating Roman Empire in relation to the Roman Church and the idea of expanding the empire universally.
The Romans as an empire had absolutely no interest in Christianity and Democracy. In 325 A.D. as the West was beginning to fall, Roman emperor Constantine re-organized Christianity, originally of indigenous African origins, in the East. As lingering internal conflicts among church bishops were beginning to undermine the empire’s political stability.
Constantine in addition officially confirmed the council’s decision on the nature of Jesus Christ and his place in the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit the central pillar of the new faith. This is the brand of Christianity we have in Samoa today. Yes indeed, what Malietoa and our ancestors were told as the Good News by European missionaries was actually a European invention of what Donald Trump calls Fake News.
What Constantine and European Christians viewed as the Trinity and the idea of Immaculate Conception and Everlasting Life are an ancient Samoan concept of the Aiga Atua deeply rooted in our Samoan Story of Creation. Our ancestors had it long before European Christians gave the concept a facelift, makeup, nail polish, a set of high heels and a mini skirt in a reorganized version three hundred and twenty five years after an ordinary teacher of wisdom named Jesus had died.
In our story of creation by our Manuʻa ancestors, the Divine (La) had impregnated (usu) the Vine (Fue Tagata) and begotten Worm (Anufe). This is the Samoan version of the Aiga Atua. In light of the context in this particular usuga, one can draw parallels that are identical with the Christian concepts.
These include: a). the Trinity in the Father (La), Mother (Fue Tagata) and the Child (Anufe); b). Mother Mary and Child Jesus in Fue Tagata and Anufe; c). The usuga of the Divine (La) to Mother Mary (Fue Tagata), resulted in the tagata Samoa. Here we find the Christian concept of Everlasting Life. In the tagata Samoa, when the father or mother dies, in my view, his/her life lives on in his/her child (a suli moni). So life never dies. The critical question one might ask is: Where did these European strangers whose God does not even look like us get there story?
What separates Samoan spirituality from the re-organized religion of the Romans and European Christians is intention. Something our hospitable and loving ancestors never saw. The strangers’ intention was to civilize, colonize and destroy any historical memory of our ancestors’ past from their minds. And as it turned out Samoans of today have become proud imitators and admirers of European minds and their way of life also known as civilization.
The missionaries had absolutely no illusions about it. They colonized and outlawed our language in public schools, destroyed our images of the divine, outlawed our tatau and colonized our bodies. Worst of all in the name of their God, enslaved us with the so call ten commandments which were stolen from their former slaves in Africa. Unfortunately, we are to this very day, the only ones who still have illusions about European Christians’ intentions.
Their intentions were clearly spelled out in the Christian Doctrine of Discovery of 1493. The Pope according to the doctrine, was very specific in his orders for Christian missionaries to “claim all lands unoccupied by natives, convert and civilize those who accept Christianity and kill those who don’t.”
Prior to their arrival in Samoa in 1830, the Pope and European Christians had used the same Gospel of Jesus Christ they had fooled Malietoa and our unsuspecting ancestors with, in the slave trade that involved three continents from the 16th-19th century: Europe, Africa and the New World. The two slave ships that were most reliable and proved essential to the European Christians’ success as slave masters were called Good Jesus and Mother of God.
The wealthy development of large scale plantations triggered high demands for human labor and servants during the transatlantic slave trade. And Christianity was one of the most effective recruiting tools European missionaries had used to lure African natives into slavery with promises, of a better life with the new father in heaven in the new world.
This is the same method of operation European missionaries had deployed in Samoa. And their successors in the Samoan faifeau and ekalesia have been consistent and dedicated to their commitment in keeping the very same promises with all-paid for lifestyles and hefty material riches. Some have even ventured out into business as capitalists, all paid for by their devout blind faithful who is struggling to make ends meet.
European missionaries had brutalized African slaves, stacked them like sardines in inhumane and deplorable conditions. Many of the slaves never made it to the new world as they succumbed to suffocation, starvation, infectious diseases and untreated injuries.
The U.N. official estimate of the total number of African natives killed during the slave trade is 17 million. Other estimates are as high as 60 million. Whichever estimate one accepts, the numbers make Adolf Hitler and his holocaust which killed 6 million Jews looks like a small potato. It pales in comparison. The question is. What is so Godly about a religion and a father in heaven that tolerate such atrocities against a people who happen to be the source of the human race?
Africa is the birthplace of human civilization. Not Adam and not Eve in the imaginary garden of Eden as the Christian Holy Bible would prefer. One can therefore, reasonably argue that Samoans are no different than native Africans racially, spiritually and culturally.
Religious freedom is a basic human right protected under the Constitution and deserves the utmost respect. But personally in my view, Christianity is nothing but a sophisticated form of slavery reincarnated as colonization and the Good News. And as long as tagata Samoa continue to behold to Christianity and her twin brother, State government, we will always be imprisoned and forever enslaved in our state of mind. And our aiga, especially the vulnerable poor and marginalized, will be forever destroyed, the moment they lose their state of real estate.
Church leaders and P.M. Tuilaepa, our nation’s chief organizer of power and wealth, know it all too well. As masters, they will go out of their way to protect the interests of foreigners. Because their loyalty and allegiance rest with the bearded, blue-eyed, long-haired father in heaven who is as foreign as the Romans, European missionaries, I.M.F, A.D.B, Chinese foreign investors and World Bank executives. Again, this is no accident. Like the Africans before us, we, tagata Samoa have been dubbed to believe in a lie about a father in heaven who does not look like us. If blind faith is truly blind, how stupid can we get? No one, palemia or faifeau, can free us but ourselves!