Samoa considering amending constitution to include Christian values and traditions

The prime minister of Samoa has called for a review of the republic's constitution, a proposal that the council of churches has welcomed. However, the secretary general of the council suggested that they should go beyond incorporating Christian priciples and ban Islam from entering the country altogether.

(Wikimedia Commons/Robyn Gallagher from Auckland, New Zealand)The big Catholic church in Apia and the bottled water truck. 20 November 2003.

"We are not going too far, no," said Samoa Council of Churches Secretary General Reverend Ma'auga Motu, as quoted by Radio NZ. "We are still wanting our own people to be prevented from this kind of influence, even though there are so many people who are good people but still there are some dangerous people among them who might come and threaten our peace."

According to another Radio NZ report, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said that the proposed changes came after his office was advised of the danger of Islamic extremists, who could disrupt the country's stability.

There is a small Muslim community in the country, and while the current constitution protects their and other citizens' right to practice any religion, there is no statute that prevents the government from establishing an official state religion.

Christianity is mentioned only in the country's preamble, but Samoa's ruling party is considering amending the constitution so that Christian tradition, values, and principles will be legally recognized in its supreme law. The prime minister reportedly said that Christianity is ingrained in the country's culture and traditions and that Samoa is a nation that is Christianity-based.

Samoa's people, in a 2011 estimate reported in the CIA World Factbook, is composed of 57.4 percent Protestant, 19.4 percent Roman Catholic, 15.2 percent Mormon, and 1.7 percent Worship Centre. Other Christians comprise 5.5 percent of the population, other religions make up 0.7 percent, while no religion and unspecified are 0.1 percent each.

While they the Samoan government is considering amending the country's contitution, they have also expressed that they will accept majority of recommendations given to them by the United Nations following a human rights review. Among the 91 or 129 recommendations they will reportedly accept are: addressing sexual violence and establishing a register for sex offenders; protecting the land rights of indigenous people; and reducing gender-based violence.

Matters of sexual orientation and identity were difficult, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chief Executive Peseta Noumea Simi, since elements such as culture and social fabric need to be taken into account. Nonetheless, Samoa is determined to move forward.

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