Liberia Could Break Up Over Move To Make It A 'Christian Nation', Say Protesters
April 10, 2015
A proposed amendment to the constitution of Liberia which would declare the West African republic a Christian state is dividing faiths and has the potential to harm communal relations.
The proposal was adopted during a recent meeting of Liberia's Constitution Review Committee. It will be passed to the country's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, before a vote in the national legislature and subsequent referendum.
The move is being promoted by a clergy-led group, the Liberia Restoration to Christian Heritage Committee, which gathered 700,000 signatures in its support.
However, the proposal has been denounced by Baptist leaders who say that it is inconsistent with Liberia's constitution and plural nature.
A statement from the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention signed by its president Olu Menjay said that Liberian Baptists have "no room for sectarian arrogance within the country's diverse Christian persuasions and in a progressively more pluralistic world where Liberia is for all persons regardless of faith persuasion or affiliation".
The statement continued: "A nerve center of our denominational sensibility as Christians called Baptist is not merely religious toleration, but religious liberty, not merely sufferance, but freedom not just for us, but for all people. As such, we affirm our stance against making Liberia a Christian nation."
It was also denounced by the general assembly of the National Muslim Students Association of Liberia. A statement issued and signed by 70 representatives warned, "In the event that Christian extremists impose themselves on the Constitution [of Liberia], our last resort would be to secede territories that were predominantly Muslim before the creation of the so-called Christian principled state." Liberia is 85 per cent Christian and 12 per cent Muslim.
The influential Archbishop Lewis Zeiglier of Monrovia also expressed his opposition to the move.
Members of other faiths have also protested the decision and picketed the review committee. "Liberia is not for Christians, Liberia is not for Muslims, Liberia is for everybody. We don't want Liberia to be for only one group of people," protest leader Hajah Swaray said in an interview with the Anadolu news agency.
"It would not be fair to see one group marginalised. We have 16 tribes in Liberia. Some people are Muslims, while others are Bahai or embrace traditional religions. Let's just live as we are."
Source: By Mark Wood - Christian Today