Saturday, November 03, 2012

While we were praying in the village

from w
Several leaders of various religious organisations were meeting in Suva to discuss an important issue - whether Fiji should be a secular or Christian based state.  Good idea to meet though most people are hard to shift from a long-held position. Rev Tuikilakila said some important statements as reported in the Fiji Times. It's time that there is a serious interfaith dialoque in Fiji.

Methodist invites leaders

Nanise Loanakadavu
Sunday, November 04, 2012
THE Methodist Church in Fiji has invited political leaders in the formation of the constitution, to align themselves to the plan of God, in whose hands the future of the world lies.
Church newly appointed president, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, during the Religion and State seminar by the Constitution Commission at the University of the South Pacific in Thursday night, said government was walking into a critical path.
"Fiji today is a pluralistic society," Mr Waqairatu said.
"Their positive inter-church relation in the ecumenical circle and mission should enrich their corporate ministry in the country," he said.
Likewise, he said, other living faiths such as Islam, Hinduism and others with their contribution to the nation, was a reality to be reckoned with.
He said constant dialogue with religious groups should create an in-depth and mutual understanding and trust for positive corporate journey into the future.
"Fiji has been ravaged by the coup-culture with its negative repercussions psychologically embedded in the minds of the people, especially the young generation, whose behaviour has been heavily affected by the noted phenomenon," he said.
and from Fijilive - comes a rather interesting idea.

Meanwhile, the National Secretary of the Shree Santan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, Vijendra Prakash said that all the future governments of Fiji should recognise the contribution of all faith based organisations and create a cabinet position of Minister of Religion, Culture, Tradition and Civic Pride. “The major responsibility of the ministry would be to facilitate interfaith and intra-faith dialogues in Fiji for better understanding and more unity,” Prakash said. He also added that for the Government to budget allowance ranging from $25,000.00 to $100,000.00 annually to registered faith based groups depending on its size of membership as this will allow an outreach program to its members across the nation on peaceful co-existence, national building and civic pride education.

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Anonymous said...

As the Rev Waqairatu said we live in a pluralistic society. The early Christians lived in a very pluralistic society as well, but they were able live out their faith in an uncompromising way, whilst being hounded from pillar to post. But in 300 short years the emperor bowed the knee to this once despised jewish sect and the son of a jewish carpenter.

Ironically this climactic high point was also the edge of a precipice. If Fiji is officially declared a Christian state, she will be in my view at a climactic high point of sorts whilst simultaneously on the edge of a precipice.

Will Christianity get it right this time where it has failed too many times in her 2000 year history. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most difficult, handling the journey through the valley of the shadow of death may be a 10. However, successfully manoevering through the heights of great power and glory has to be off the scale, 100 and more. But as the good book says, what is impossible to man is possible with God. We shall see.

The coercive brand of Christianity that evolved following its rise to state level(after the 300s AD) was wrong. But it has been matched today by a Chritianity on the other end of the spectrum that is pluralistic, diluted and compromising to the point of being humanistic. Equally wrong.

- God Is Not Always Correct

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

When it is diluted and compromising it loses its power of course so there is a problem of trying to please and be respectful. We do need a strong base of Christian culture to withstand the kind of society where God becomes irrelevant - like Australia. So Tui has to be strong to put the Christian faith forward in a fearless way, even though acknowledging that we have neighbours who call God by other names, or not at all.

Anonymous said...

It is a tightrope walk on the high wire for the Rev. Waqairatu.

The other religions and denominations are the lesser of his worries. That is if they band together on what they have in common which is the importance and reality of the world outside the realm of the five senses.
I think that if they home in on this truth they will be in a better position to, through the haze, just make out the outline of their common enemy, which faces them.

If dialoguing achieves that, then great. I don’t think that people will worry too much about their differences and rights etc if they realize they are in piranha-infested waters. The priority is to get out or at least onto a craft of some kind. Religious differences can be ironed out later.

It would be only natural that each religion will have put forward statements (at the seminar) that reflect what would be in their own interests primarily. Fair enough. For the Christians and I’m thinking here of the Methodists as the biggest group and made up of mainly Fijians, the interests and discomfort that exist would stem from their perception (unfounded or otherwise) that their identity is in danger of being diminished, even taken from them. Identity as the indigenous people, as Christians and as landowners etc all put together. I see that even the name “Fijian” is being kicked about, dissected, scrutinized etc.

The very machinery or philosophy, call it what you like, that makes promises and is working hard to bring equality and justice for all races, gender, religions etc is also stripping (or threatening) others of their identity and preaching a ‘new identity for all’. It hunts with the hounds and runs with the hares. The minorities appeal to it for equality and the majorities go to it for their rights. It brings people around to its way gradually, a kind of operation creep that is difficult to detect if ever.

I think people sense that something is there, but they can’t quite put a finger on it.
Its biggest and only major threat is religion and amongst the religions Christianity whose king unapologetically is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

- God Is Not Always Correct

Anonymous said...

A certain N.Singh correctly described the debate on Fiji as a Christian vs Secular state as “overwhelming and endless” (FT 1st Nov Letters to the Ed). In spite of the non-negociable principle in Decree 58 of a secular state. This is healthy, though understandably a distraction for those who have spent time and energy setting out the principles for the constitution commission. Healthy because it is challenging issues at a strategic level.

Usually much focus tends to be on issues (very much legitimate) that affect people directly like unemployment, food prices and so on. As Singh suggests “How about church leaders gather around the tanoa and focus on issues such as reducing poverty, creating employment opportunities, eliminating corruption…” To the masses these are the things that matter and they do need addressing no question about that.

However the strategic settings laid down to achieve those ends will have greater consequences for good or ill for more people and for a longer period. So will going the way of a secular state reap a greater and better harvest for more people for a longer time or will a Christian state do that? Presently the strategic principle is set – Fiji is a secular state. But at this level the Rev. Waqairatu representing the Methodist Church, and others are calling for a strategic shift.

My question and concern is, from what grounds is the call for this strategic shift coming. If it’s coming from political party policy than it will fail. That I am certain of. The politicisation of the Church has failed miserably for 2 millennia. But that is not to say that its spread, influence, power and growth to the point that it did after its first 300 years was not the intention of its founder.

History is a good teacher and must not be ignored, but it is often raised to the level of being the Teacher on par with Jesus the Nazarene. Same goes with experience, or education and so on. Or if the call for this strategic adjustment is coming from the grounds of being the indigenous inhabitants or majority landowners then these too (though legitimate like creating opportunities for employment) are shifting sands as well. The political context of the kingdom of God that Jesus Messiah brought needs to be revisited if the right ground from which to call for and live out a Christian state is to be made known and occupied.

God Is Not Always Correct