Is it lawful in Fiji to have race-based church structures?

race

Is it constitutional to have a race-based division in an institution in Fiji?

That is the question being asked after the Methodist Church in Fiji recently decided that it will continue to have an Indian Division in the church.

Last year the superintendent of the Indian Division of the Church, Reverend Dr Immanuel Reuben, tabled a motion proposing the name of the Indian Division of the Church be changed.

The motion was subsequently withdrawn.

Church Secretary for Communications Reverend James Bhagwan says since the motion had been withdrawn, there will be no name change.

When questioned by Fijivillage, the Methodist Church in Fiji said the name Indian Division reflects a historical aspect of the church’s work. It is not representative of Indo Fijians in the country.

Church Secretary for Communications Reverend James Bhagwan says the name is not race-based but is more culturally-based.

He says looking at the makeup of the Indian Division of the Methodist Church, probably 50 percent are non-Indo-Fijians. They have no problem belonging to a Division that calls themselves Indian Division.

He says the name reflects the Indo Fijian culture, as the majority of the services is done in the Hindi language.

Asked if having an Indian Division is against the Constitution, Bhagwan says it is not.

The Methodist Church in Fiji today has 56 divisions. Fifty-three of the divisions are geographic and three are based on language and culture.

These are the Indian Division (Hindi and English Speaking, with a focus on mission to the Indo-Fijian community), the Rotuman Division (for the Rotuman speaking and cultural community) and the Wesley Division (English speaking).

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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