Samoa’s proposed Constitutional amendment threatens religious freedom

Constitutional amendment

A Samoan governance expert says there is a danger a bill to make Samoa a Christian state could undermine freedom of religion in the country.

The bill, which had its second reading last week, was widely supported by Parliament.

The 2016 Explanatory Memorandum attached to Constitutional Amendment Bill (No. 2) says the government wants to amend the Constitution to declare the dominance of Christianity in Samoa.

Leasiolagi Malama Meleisea said unclean if amendment will continue to guarantee religious freedom.

He is the Director of Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa.

“They are framing their concern about Islamism and so on in a very emotional way,” Leasiolagi said.

“So the leaders of the main Christian denominations are more or less saying that we want to protect our turf but in order for us to air these concerns we are going to frame it in the context of what is happening in the world.”

As it stands, the Constitution’s only reference to Christianity is in the preamble.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielega said that means it is not part of the Constitution.

“This does not stand in Court as it is not included in the body of the Constitution.”

Tuilaepa said with the amendment, reference to Christianity will be included in body of the Constitution.

“The phrase “Samoa is founded on God” will be taken out.

Instead “Samoa is a Christian nation founded of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” will be inserted into the Constitution

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News category: Pacific.

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