In the version of the draft constitution I read (some say an illegally obtained version) the idea of Fiji being called a Christian state is not accepted despite a lot of lobbying by various people. The regime made a stipulant that Fiji should be a secular state and Professor Ghai's group went along with that. However some people are still not happy about the word 'secular' as indicated in the following letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times today, and I think it is a good letter. Then below I have posted the relevant part in the proposed constitution which is now in the public domain, whether officially sanctioned or not. The horse has bolted!
AS the debate on Fiji to be a secular State rather than a Christian State continues, I am of the belief that the latter is more appropriate and justifiable than the former on the following basis.
We must admit that the good life we have in Fiji today compared with many nations and countries of the world is undoubtedly the making and influence of our former leaders, most of whom were Christians who led our nation during the colonial era and later grazed our politically landscape during and after independence.
That the majority of our present population are Christians and should justifiably uphold the proposition for the Christian State as majority in decision-making is one of the pillars of the principles of democratic system.
However, in the process, making provision in the constitution to safeguard the freedom of religion without imposing the Christian faith or any other faith for that matter to anyone should always be part of the constitution.
For a secular State, the word secular, which means not religious or not spiritual, certainly makes it wrong and unacceptable to call Fiji as such.
In fact what it would mean is that Fiji or the Fijians would not recognise or acknowledge the religious or spiritual aspects of man's life in the highest governing law of our nation and that is disastrous.
Man, as we should know, is a tripartite being composed of the spiritual soul and body. When we want to employ the word secular, in essence what we will be saying or doing is denying God, the religious or spiritual part of our being and will not augur well with our present and future existence. We will just need to seriously consider nations — that only in the past decades adopted the philosophy of non-existence of God in their lives — and the disastrous consequences upon them.
May I conclude quoting the words of one of a renowned German theologian as food for thought who said "for every human problem, there is a spiritual element in it." I pray that the leadership of our nation reconsider and refrain from using the word secular for our State and perhaps coin another appropriate term to include the religious and spiritual aspects and truths of our being.
Rev. AISAKE KUNANITU