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Commentary

Campaign to Christianize Liberia

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The campaign to declare Liberia a Christian state is not a right but an attempt to fuel sectarian violence.

On Thursday, February 16, 2011, while on my normal routine visiting Liberian news outlets online to acquaint myself with issues happening back home, I came across a story in the New Dawn Newspaper captioned: “Christians Gather 1 Million Signatures to Declare Liberia a Christian state.”  According to the paper, the Christian state campaigners want to repeal article 14 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution which declared Liberia as a secular state. Article 14 of the 1986 Constitution reads, Article 14 “All persons shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment thereof except as may be required by law to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. All persons who, in the practice of their religion, conduct themselves peaceably, not obstructing others and conforming to the standards set out herein, shall be entitled to the protection of the law. No religious denomination or sect shall have any exclusive privilege or preference over any other, but all shall be treated alike; and no religious tests shall be required for any civil or military office or for the exercise of any civil right. Consistent with the principle of separation of religion and state, the Republic shall establish no state religion.” This makes the basis for my argument.

By reasoning, one must conclude that the Christian state campaigners want the direct opposite of all the words and sentences in article 14. We will address that later. For the record, would like to define a secular and a theocratic state. A theocratic State is a state whereby official policy is to be governed by the doctrine of a particular set of religion. In a theocratic state, the government hierarchy subordinates to the religious hierarchy. In essence, the campaigners want the policies of governance to be from those principles that are yet to be identified. A secular state in contrast, is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non-religion over other religions/non-religion. Secular states do not have a state religion or equivalent. They protect every citizen’s freedom of religion. Again, our campaigners are against religious freedom for others. In short, they want to take away the religious freedoms of Muslims and people of other beliefs in Liberia. By doing so, they are attempting to play the role of the oppressors which bring us to this quote of Martin Luther King on freedom, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” If you take people freedom from them, you must expect them to demand it back. It doesn’t matter how it is demanded. Never take or attempt to take someone’s freedom and expect to sleep sound with it.

The above explanation brings us to the preamble of the Liberian Constitution of 1986 which reads,   “We the People of the Republic of Liberia: Acknowledging our devout gratitude to God for our existence as a Free, Sovereign and Independent State, and relying on His Divine Guidance for our survival as a Nation; Realizing from many experiences during the course of our national existence which culminated in the Revolution of April 12, 1980, when our Constitution of July 26, 1847 was suspended, that all of our people, irrespective of history, tradition, creed, or ethnic background are of one common body politic; Exercising our natural, inherent and inalienable rights to establish a framework of government for the purpose of promoting unity, liberty, peace, stability, equality, justice and human rights under the rule of law, with opportunities for political, social, moral, spiritual and cultural advancement of our society, for ourselves and for our posterity; and Having resolved to live in harmony, to practice fraternal love, tolerance and understanding as a people and being fully mindful of our obligation to promote African unity and international peace and cooperation, Do hereby solemnly make, establish, proclaim, and publish this Constitution for the governance of the Republic of Liberia.”

The second paragraph of this preamble has a very important expression that must send a strong caveat to any Liberian or group of Liberians who take or attempt to take others rights that there is always a repercussion for that. The expression reads, “Realizing from many experiences during the course of our national existence which culminated in the Revolution of April 12, 1980.”

The expression “many experiences are referring to those injustices that were meted out against other Liberians by the Americo-Liberians. Native Liberians were deprived of their religious, social, economic and political rights and which they demanded culminating into the 1980 coup. My intention here is to lay a premise for my argument that no deprivation of rights goes unchallenged not to resurrect any Congo-Native argument. I am not interested in that.

Another area of concern is the second to the last paragraph which reads,  “Having resolved to live in harmony, to practice fraternal love, tolerance and understanding as a people and being fully mindful of our obligation to promote African unity and international peace and cooperation.”This sums up all, it tells us that we as a people cannot live in harmony except we practice fraternal love, tolerance (tolerance includes religious and tribal dimensions) and understanding as a people.

This campaign to declare Liberia a Christian state is not only unconstitutional but also undermines the very existence of Liberia and Liberian as a state and a people.

Firstly, let’s take a deep look at article 14 of the constitution in relation to others articles in the constitution. Article 14 once again reads, “All persons shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment thereof except as may be required by law to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. All persons who, in the practice of their religion, conduct themselves peaceably, not obstructing others and conforming to the standards set out herein, shall be entitled to the protection of the law. No religious denomination or sect shall have any exclusive privilege or preference over any other, but all shall be treated alike; and no religious tests shall be required for any civil or military office or for the exercise of any civil right.

Consistent with the principle of separation of religion and state, the Republic shall establish no state religion.” Clearly, the Christian State Campaigners are opting for the direct opposite of article 14 which could be interrupted as, “Only people of Christian descent shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and that only people of Christian original will not be hindered in the practice of their religion. Non-Christians may be hindered in the enjoyment of their religious right even if they have done nothing that requires the law to protect public safety, order health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedom of others. Even if non-Christians conduct themselves peaceably, not obstructing others in the practice of their religion, they shall not be entitled to the protection of the law. Again, that the Christian religion shall have exclusive privilege over all other beliefs ruling out equal treatment of others. Furthermore, non-Christians shall be subjected to religious test for both civil and military offices.” Too much!!! What an un-Christian advocacy or Campaign?

What are those Christian principles? Was Liberian founded or ever governed by Christian Principles?? What are those Christian Principles that our brothers are advocating for? The root of any Christian Principle must stem from the ten commandments and notable among those ten commandments for the purpose of this discussion are, A) Thou shall not lie, B) Thou Shall not steal and C) one of the greatest commandments of God that a Christian principle must base on, Mark 12:31,  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

It is important to note that Liberia did not begin in 1821 or 1822. Before the coming of the Americo- Liberians, there were indigenous already on the Liberian soil. The territorial landscape may not have carried the name Liberia, but that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t have been those tribes or religions that the Americo Liberian met. Liberia is only a name for the country not the landscape. The region was call Condo and Monrovia was called Ducor. Those names were causing no harms to the inhabitants.

For those of us who are familiar with social science 201 (Introduction to Liberian Society), we have all come across the story about the land dispute between the Americo-Liberians on the one hand, and the Gola, Dei and Bassa Chiefs on the other hand which was later resolved by King Sao Bosu, a Mandingo and a Muslim King who was the most powerful kings on the soil. The story goes like this, the Americo- Liberians claimed that they bought the land, but the indigenous chiefs said that they didn’t sell their land. In fact, that Captain Robert Stockholm of the Americo-Liberian side pulled a pistol and pointed it to the head of Chief Stubbledfield (Check my spelling) who was the most recalcitrant amongst the chiefs and threatened him to accept the deal or else, he might kill him. The chiefs out of fear bowed to the demand and accepted the deal. That’s the story printed in handouts and students from the University of Liberia, African Methodist Episcopal University of Liberia ( AMEU) and others are reading as the beginning of Liberian history or the purchase of the land that was later expanded  to other areas to form present day Liberia.

The disagreement continued until the arrival of King Bosu who ruled in favor of the Americo-Liberian and threatened to cut the head of any king who had resisted his ruling. This lays the foundation for Liberia. King Bosu, didn’t base his ruling on the fact that he believed the Americo-Liberians, but base on TOLERANCE AND ACCOMDATION. That was religious tolerance and accommodation that his descendants would be deprived of in years to come. Liberia was founded on religious tolerance and accommodation. That’s the hard truth. It is a clear fact that Islam came to Liberia before Christianity and that the Islamic King ruled in favor of the Americo-Liberians (the Christians) against the traditional believers (other indigenous).

The problem with our country is that we have problems when people speak the truth. If you say that Liberia was founded on Christianity principle, what is that Christian principle? Pointing gun at someone and forcing him to agree to a deal? That’s theft by coercion not a Christian principle. Remember, “Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not lie.” Someone forced another to agree to a deal and brainwashed others that his actions were based on Christian principles. If you consider that to be the beginning of Liberia, is that the Christian Principle? What is this Christian principle? Lavishing tax payers’ money on private buildings to run government ministries and public corporations? Look at Liberia today, we have just started moving into state own buildings to run government ministries and public corporations. Liberia is the only country in the world that rents from private citizens because money intended to build those institutions went down the throats of corrupt officials. Is that the Christian principle? No political, social and economic institutions are in the country. Everybody has turned into beggars and jobs seekers to empty the coffer of the state. Everybody, those in opposition, critics and supporters of past and incumbent leaderships are always waiting for that life changing call from the leadership of the day to get them on board.

Even if you hide your caller’s identity, they will still answer it. Nobody wants to miss that just once in a lifetime call. We’ve seen many examples; critics of current and previous presidents have become errand boys, while supporters have become more parasitic. If you check other countries in the sub-region like Ghana, Nigeria, sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast etc, where there are institutions, oppositions do not call for government of inclusion. The winner is the winner because their founding fathers didn’t brainwash them on falsehoods. They built institutions that you can survive on without depending on government. Do you think those who put us in that predicament were even thinking about any Christian principle? This is why previous governments made little efforts to reduce illiteracy. For every time people try to understand what’s going on they bring the Christian principle and foreigner tools to fool them. Brainwashed!!!!

Every day foreigners are crossing over from Guinea to Liberia. But when you check the facts, Liberia has the least population amongst her three neighbors (Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone). The 2008 census reports showed a decreased in Liberia’s population from a little over 3.5 million to some around 3.4. So where are those foreigners going if Liberia is indeed that sweet land of Liberty for which people are hiding between and amongst coal bags or under cars parts to come and taste the sweetness? May be we have another country under the ground where they and the brainwashers go to live or in the Atlantic Ocean. The much publicized coming of foreigners from Guinea was not reflected in the 2008 population. Guinea’s population has grown from 7 million to over 13 million from 1990 to 2011. For Liberia, it has decreased. Don’t tell me that it was the war because Sierra Leone also fought war but their population is growing. If Liberia was that sweet land of liberty for which   people from Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone were dying to come to, then Liberia should have had the highest population, not three time less  than Guinea’s whose citizens have been accused of killing themselves just to live in Liberia. Compare the two countries ( Guinea and Liberia), visit the CIA’s world fact book, World Bank, IMF reports about their economies, literacy rates, infrastructural development, per capita etc. and tell me which country’s citizen should be running to the other if any of such is happening as greatly alarmed by those who are brainwashed and the brainwashers. I decided to throw light on this foreigner issue because, those being brainwashed were made to think that they are the original Liberians because they were Christians and non- Christians were especially the Muslims foreigner and were from Guinea.

If one speaks these daring facts, you are branded as an unpatriotic person leaving out those who brainwashed our people leaving us in such predicaments. Those who and their descendants have emptied our state coffer from 1847 up to present. We are now the 3rd poorest country in the world far ranked behind our neighbors that we claimed are dying to come to our country. Whether Manyou says them or not, the facts are on the internet.

Even foreigners from Nigeria who have come to boast our economy through the banking sectors are robbed of their money by some of those Liberians who are employed at those banks? If you read the news every day, if you don’t see employees from Eco-bank on theft trial, you will see employees from another bank. Poverty is the cause and we won’t understand it except we get out of this brainwashed status. The so-called Christian Principle damaged the fabrics of our society. That’s not Christian principle. That’s brainwashed.

Did they clear list those Christian principles because even the rules of Animalism on Animal’s Farm were clearly written for everyone to see? I bet those campaigners to clearly state those Christian principles one by one or show me where they were written as the guiding laws of Liberia.

Liberia was not founded on Christian Principles and has never been governed by Christian Principles. Had Liberia been founded and governed base on Christian Principles, there would have been no coup in 1980. There would have been no cases of injustices that led to the births of Movement for Justice in

Africa (MOJA), Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) and other movements that culminated into the 1980 coup. There were injustices all over the country with a minority group of people suppressing the majority for 133 years. Is that the Christian Principle? Indigenous Liberian men and women were not allowed to vote or participate in government but were paying taxes, is that the Christian Principle that existed before 1980?

Even in the ranks of the very Americo-Liberians who brainwashed our people that Liberia was founded on Christian principles, there was color struggle and injustices between the brighter (Mulattoes) and darker (black).

The sad ending of President James S. Smith speaks to that fact. Like the land dispute that marred the beginning of Liberia, there are two sides to the story about how and why he died. Liberia is the only country in the world with two sides for every story. We never say the truth. Is that the Christian Principle?

Look at the death of president Tolbert, two sides!! Others believe that he was killed by a white hand, while others believe that he was killed by members of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC). Let’s look at the death of president Doe, two sides. It was believed he was captured and killed by the INPFL but another source says that he committed suicide after he was tortured. The country foundation was characterized by lies and land disputes; we are seeing them all over today. The end shall justify the means. We have land cases all over Liberia today and people are lying about principles and ownership of

Liberia. They’ve followed us from 1821 up present. The only way out is for us to start speaking the truth. The Unconstitutionality of the Campaign to Christianize Liberia It should be understood that the Christian State campaigners are not fighting for their rights but instead, are fighting to take others rights from them. One cannot petition the National legislature or call for a referendum to curtail others rights in the absence of hearing in a competent court of jurisdiction. It must be established that said person has violated the law and for which his rights must be curtailed to serve punishment or restore order, protect public health etc. This is not the case. The fact that article Article 91(This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1) two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or (2) a petition submitted to the Legislature, by not fewer than 10,000 citizens which receives the concurrence of two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature, is ratified by two-thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature) gives us the right to submit  petitions our lawmakers for  constitutional amendments doesn’t give us the right to file illegal petitions. Taking someone’s right is illegal. In legal studies, we describe acts that are illegal from their inceptions as ab initio, meaning, and illegal from its beginning.

One cannot declare Liberian a Christian just by repealing article 14 of the constitution because; it will be in conflict with other provisions of the constitution which you cannot ignore. Take for instance; article fourteen forms part of Fundamental Human rights which run from article 11 to 26. Fundamental rights mean those rights without which neither liberty nor justice would exist. They are mostly derived from natural laws. They are from God. You can’t take those rights that God has given to others neither can you craft a petition to take away them. The only thing government can do is to protect them. Among them is the right or freedom to worship. They are also referred to as natural and inalienable rights.

Just read article 11 a and b, (a)

All persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the right of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining and security of the person and of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution.

b) All persons, irrespective of ethnic background, race, sex, creed, place of origin or political opinion, are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution). If you repeal 14 which you cannot do because of the constitutionality of the act, a non-Christian may be defended by article 11 Aand B. Furthermore article 26 reads, “Where any person or any association alleges that any of the rights granted under this Constitution or any legislation or directives are constitutionally contravened, that person or association may invoke the privilege and benefit of court direction, order or writ, including a judgment of unconstitutionality; and anyone injured by an act of the Government or any person acting under its authority, whether in property, contract, tort or otherwise, shall have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress. All such suits brought against the Government shall originate in a Claims Court; appeals from judgment of the Claims Court shall lie directly to the Supreme Court.” This means that the government must be willing to give most people their rights back in court because this one article is tied to many articles that you cannot ignore.

In law, when two laws are conflicting, we take the bigger one. How is that determined? On a one –on –one basis, the proposed amendment is calling for the curtailing of others rights that the government cannot deprive them of. The petitioners on the other hand have nothing to lose because their rights are not been hindered. They are only trying to take others rights that they won’t let anybody to take from them. Therefore, the court will rule in favor of the ones whose rights have been violated. On a general basis, the proposed amendment will be conflicting with 14 other articles (11 to 26) of the same branch which will render it illegal and non-enforceable.  In addition, it is null and void, because of it conflicting status with other laws that is, it is in conflict with article two which reads, “This Constitution is the supreme and fundamental law of Liberia and its provisions shall have binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic. Any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect. The Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional.” Any law in conflict with article two of the constitution is in conflict with all other article of the Constitution.

To add up, this proposed amendment undermines everything our nation stands for. For examples, it undermines our Preamble and constitution which I have explained, our Flag, the Liberian pledge, our national anthem and the oath of affirmation.

Our Flag

The star in our flag signifies freedom. Where is that freedom when you take away others fundamental rights? The White symbolizes purity. How can you boast of purity when your deeds or thinking towards others are all about injustices?

Our Pledge

I pledge allegiance to the flag of Liberia and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Where is the one nation that is indivisible with Liberty and justice for all if you deny or attempt to deny other justice? The attempt to deny other justice is a crime. If you argue that it is not a crime, then, why we have crimes like attempted murder or theft? Those campaigners must be brought to justice by central government for attempting to abrogate the constitution or take the rights of others. A pledge is an oath.

Liberia is backward today because many of our past leaders swore the pledge of allegiance and deviated.  Many of our historians misled our people.

The National Anthem
All hail, Liberia, hail! (All hail!)
All hail, Liberia, hail! (All hail!)
This glorious land of liberty,
Shall long be ours.
Though new her name,
Green be her fame,
And mighty be her powers,
And mighty be her powers.
In joy and gladness,
With our hearts united,
We’ll shout the freedom,
Of a race benighted

Long live Liberia, happy land!
A home of glorious liberty,
By God’s command!
A home of glorious liberty,
By God’s command!

Where is the glorious land of Liberty when you deny people their Liberty? Where is there going to be the joy and gladness of Liberians to unite their hearts when others are deprived of their rights? God will never be in command of any land where there is no justice. That’s Satan’s area!!!

To conclude, this campaign is demonic, unpatriotic and unconstitutional and therefore will die a natural death. Let my Muslims brothers and sisters out there not see this as a struggle between Islam and Christianity because it doesn’t have the blessing of the Liberian Council of Churches and many of our good Christians counter-parts, but as a battle between Patriotic Liberians on the one hand, and misguided and ill-informed religious bigots who have no understanding of our country history and laws. They are not true Christians. True Christians will only opt for an equal society.  That’s not what the Bible says. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Diversity will only better us, not harm us.

The Christian State campaigners know now that to succeed, they must repeal all of the fundamental human rights which are not possible. They must also change our flag or its meaning, rewrite the pledge, and change the National anthem and a whole lot of other things. No government will ever take those rights from any group of people to satisfy religious bigots.

Let me leave you with this quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

Manyou MAS Bility

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