The Samoan government is about to amend its Constitution to include a declaration that it is a “Christian nation founded of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi tabled the Constitutional Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2016, which went through its first reading in December. The move was made so the Constitution body will state that the country was founded on Christian principles, Samoa Observer reported.
For years, Samoans have been declaring that Samoa is “founded on God.” As it turned out, there is no strong legal basis for this declartion because it is not found anywhere in the Constitution body, according to Tuilaepa.
Although the preamble makes mention that the nation is founded on God, the principle that Christianity is the dominant religion in the country will “not stand in court,” he said.
“The discussion of this bill is not new as it was introduced in our last Parliament sitting,” Tuilaepa said at the bill’s second reading in late January. “And from that discussion, we saw how inadequate the Constitution was at the time. Inadequate in terms of how Samoa as a Christian State is not included in the body of the Constitution.”
“Instead it is in the cover and the preamble of the Constitution, not within the body of the Constitution. This shows that it is not part of the Constitution. This does not stand in Court as it is not included in the body of the Constitution,” he said.
For more than 50 years, citizens have claimed that Samoa is a Christian state, and they have all been “misled” because “it is not within our Constitution,” Tuilaepa emphasized, adding that “God must’ve had a good laugh and thought that we have been fooling him” whenever they declared that Samoa is a Christian nation.
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the Constitution body reflects “Samoa’s religious stance as a Christian nation.”
However, instead of simply saying Samoa is founded on God, the amendment will take it a step further to have a firmer declaration of the nation’s foundation, saying, “Samoa is a Christian nation founded of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
The amendment will also help avoid conflicts involving religion, particularly at a time when religious wars have plagued many parts of the world. It would legally establish Christianity as the state religion. However, it would not hinder other religions from being practiced.
The bill received strong support from Parliament.
Lealilepule Rimoni Aiafi, M.P. for Faleata West, said if the Constitution is amended, other laws will have to abide by Christian principles.
“If we make laws and bills, we need to make decisions that will reflect that we are a Christian country,” the lawmaker said. “So if other countries push us to make laws such as to allow same sex marriage, then we have to say no because that will not show that we are a Christian country. That will never happen in Samoa.”
In December, the chairman of the National Council of Churches said amending the Constitution for the purpose of emphasizing the Christian foundation of Samoa is “unnecessary.”
“No matter the colour of their skin and religion, everyone is equal before the eyes of God,” Reverend Kasiano Leaupepe said. “The Council of Churches is doing its work in urging other religion to join forces and work together and once that is done the body of Christ is complete.”
However, Reverend Ma'auga Motu, the Secretary General of the Samoa Council of Churches, agrees with the proposed amendment.
"We are not going too far, no," he said. Referring to the threat of Islam, he added, "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."