Samoa’s status as Christian State has potential to increase tension

christian state

The stated reason given for making Samoa a Christian state is to avoid religious tensions.

But a political analyst, Grant Wyeth, says the change has the potential to actually create religious tensions.

Samoa is no longer a secular state after its Parliament voted on bill which amends the Constitution to officially declare itself as a Christian nation.

The bill was passed in the first week of June. 43 of the parliaments 49 members voted in favour of the bill. It now awaits the signature of the Head of State.

The change to the constitution means those who claim to be  interpreters of God’s will in Samoan society will now hold a far greater legal sway.

There is also the potential for more theocratic tendencies to emerge.

Churches lobbying the government for both their own tangible interests, or causes they consider of importance, will now have the state’s foundation’s document on their side.

But this could create a denominational rivalry for influence over the state.

While 98 percent of Samoa’s population identify as Christian, there is a range beliefs within the country.

Christian denominations include the evangelical Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, a large number of Roman Catholics, as well as the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, and the Methodist Church.

There has been a strong recent increase in Mormons (15 percent of the population and rising),

The likelihood of any radical Islamic elements with the organizational capacity to create tensions in Samoa is extremely remote.

The 2001 census counted the followers of Islam to be 0.03 percent of the Samoan population, or 48 people.

Although religious numbers haven’t been counted in subsequent censuses, it’s unlikely that the figure has increased too much beyond this. The country has only one mosque that is very modestly attended.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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