Students at the State –run University of Liberia are of diverse views on the debate whether or not to declare Liberia a Christian State.
The debate sparked out of an April 2, 2015 majority vote cast by 416 delegates at the just-ended Gbarnga National Constitutional Conference and Validation exercise in which they overwhelmingly voted Liberia a Christian State, having defeated their 18 voting opponents who preferred a circular state.
In the minds of the anti- Christian State debaters at the University of Liberia or UL, the outcome of the 2015 Gbanrga Constitutional Conference contravenes Liberia’s 1986 Constitution in Article 14 stating in conclusion that “Consistent with the principle of separation of religion and state, the Republic shall establish no state religion.”
But making reference to Article One, Paragraph Two of Liberia’s 1847 Constitution, the pro- Christian State Students here are equally demanding the “restoration of Liberia” from a circular state to its Commonwealth era “Christian Foundation” which, in part, acknowledged God’s devout gratitude and goodness in granting them “the blessings of the Christian religion, and political, religious, and civil liberty.”
During desperate interviews with students at the UL Fendell Campus on Monday, April 13, 2015, student Fredda Gono of the Agriculture College argued that Liberians must accept a Christian State and return to their history. She expressed the belief that making Liberia a Christian State would contribute to an effective fight against societal ills and bad practices, including homosexuality.
As for student Uriah Hoto of Liberia College, he is of the belief that Christians will better maintain peace and security in Liberia, unlike the Muslims whom, he criticized, for allegedly practicing hash laws.
But the Muslims or pro- circular state students are opposed to the Christian State Legislation, rather insisting that the Preamble of the 1986 Constitution which is silent on State Religion be sustained. The Preamble partly says “… all of our people, irrespective of history, tradition, creed or ethnic background are of one common body politic.”
Article 14 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution clearly says “No religious denomination or sect shall have any exclusive privilege or preference over any other, but all shall be treated alike.”
Student Washington Davies of the Science College wondered what benefits Liberia stood to gain from declaring the country a Christian State, as he basically argued that bad practices persist in Liberia despite Christian dominance.
He indicated that in the 1800s when freed-slaves from America were shipped to this land now called Liberia, they met others here who had their way of worshiping God.
He is of the fear that to declare a Christian State would only create a situation where some Liberians would see their religion as more important than the others, in violation of the 1986 Constitution that demands equal treatment for all religions here.
Beside the Liberian Constitution, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also gives everyone the entitlement to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
By Winston W. Parley