In August of 2012, Liberian President Johnson-Sirleaf named a six-man committee chaired by former Chief Justice Gloria M. Scott to lead a process to amend the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, through ‘town hall gatherings’ or public discourses to rally the views of Liberians across the country and other parts of the world.
Cllr. Scott, of course, expeditiously executed the mandate, ‘zeroing in’ on a National Constitution Review Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County from March 29-April 2 this year. At the Gbarnga Conference, delegates endorsed twenty-five (25) propositions to be changed in the constitution of Liberia, including the legislation of the country as ‘Christian State’ from its secular nature.
But a few weeks ago, President Sirleaf, in a communication submitting the 25-propositions to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate, rejected proposition 24, seeking to make Liberia a Christian nation as presented to her by the CRC.
Her primary argument was that though the country was founded on Christian principles, its founders, at the time, did not envisage Christianity as a state religion in the constitution, further justifying that the people of Liberia have, over the years, lived and worked together in peace and harmony regardless of traditional or religious beliefs, and that as such, legislating Christianity as a state religion at the moment would foment division among its people.
Since then, the debate continues to widen unendingly; while the Islamic community in its entirety and some influential members of the Christian Community, including the Liberia Council of Churches, continue to maintain their opposition for varying reasons, others, especially within the Christian Community remain firm on the legislation of Christianity as the state religion by the current Liberian Legislature.
Whether or not the Legislature passes on Preposition-24 to make Liberia a ‘Christian’ nation, the lawmakers must be reminded that it would require careful analysis of such proposition and its implications, as well as where we go next as a people- not on the basis of sentiments, fear or favor, but the nation’s good.
While there may be diverse views in favor or against the proposition, the recent position of Lutheran Bishop D. Jensen Seyekule, during th e observance of the church’s anniversary referred to as the Reformation Day, is one on which we all must reflect.
Bishop Seyekule’s opposed any ‘legislation of Christianity’ as our state religion, but said ‘our deeds and way of life’ as Christians would be the best option to achieve such objective (to Christianize Liberia).
Truly, the foregoing option as recommended by the Lutheran Bishop and a few other well-meaning prelates of the Christian Community could just be the path on which all Christians in Liberia must thrive, if and only if the country must be a ‘Christian’ state.
Our deeds –our way of life; our interactions with each in and outside of the Church as Christians must all be necessary conditions to take this nation by ‘storm’ toward a genuine Christian nation; but not necessarily through legislation as proposed.