Thousands of people believed to be members of various Churches here have stormed the Capitol in protest and subsequently petitioned the Legislature to return Liberia to its heritage as Christian State.
Bishop John G. Innis
The petitioners dressed in white T-shirts with red inscription ‘Liberia for Jesus’ and blue jean trousers, crowded the grounds of the Capitol, singing songs of praises to God Almighty and shouting the good news of Jesus Christ.
The march did not show a full representation of Churches in Liberia as some of the most renowned Church leaders, including Bishops Isaac Winker, Nathaniel Zarway, John Kunkun, John G. Innis and Jerome Zeigler, among others were conspicuously absent.
The protesters however presented a petition statement to members of the Liberian Legislature with over one million signatures, calling on the lawmakers to change the country to a Christian nation constitutionally. According to the 1986 Revised Constitution, Liberia is a secular state, promoting religious tolerance.
The Church members, pre-dominantly from the Pentecostal denomination under the banner “the Liberia Restoration to Christian Heritage’, called on lawmakers both from the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate to accept and conduct a national referendum in order to change the name and status of Liberia from secular state to a Christian State.
Reading the petition Tuesday on the grounds of the Capitol, the Secretary General of the group, Minister Candace Sawyer said, Liberia was founded by freed slaves from North America, who were all Christians, and gave birth in the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia as a Christian nation.
Minister Sawyer said, “Now therefore, we are assembled as a physical representation of the Liberian people to present to you, the legislature, our collective will today; we petition you to constitutionally make Liberia a Christian nation, with religious tolerance, as provided by Article 91 of the current constitution. Africa, acknowledging with devout gratitude, the goodness of God, in granting to us the blessing of the Christian religion, and political, religious, and civil liberty, do, in order to secure these blessing for ourselves and our posterity, and to establish justice, insure domestic peace, and promote the general welfare, hereby solemnly associate, and constitute ourselves a free, sovereign and independent state, by the name of the Republic of Liberia”.
According to him, section 3 of the 1847 Constitution of Liberia states that no sect of Christian shall have exclusive privileges or preference over other sect, but however, the 1986 Constitution cleverly removed the clause ‘no sect of Christian shell have exclusive’ and replace it with the controversial clause, ‘no sect of religion shall have privileges.
The prelate indicated that Churches have seen that concept as a direct attack on the National Christian heritage, and any nation that divorces her history ceases to exist automatically.
“The Bible, upon which Liberia was birthed, warns against removing the ancient landmarks; Proverb 22:28 reads “remove not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set”, Minister Sawyer read.
Receiving the petition on behalf of the House and the Senate, Representative J. Gabriel Nyankan and Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, respectively promised to present the separate petition to their respective plenaries for appropriate action in due course.