Until last week, Proposition 24 which calls for Liberia being declared a Christian nation was not so much a focus of attention. In fact, the constitutional amendment proposal had already met stiff opposition, from the grassroots level up to the presidency when the decision to make Liberia a Christian state formed part of 25 propositions from delegates at a National Constitutional Review Conference held in Bong County from March 29 to April 2, 2015.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf herself had rejected the proposal to make Liberia a Christian state when the proposal landed on her desk.
While agreeing with the view that Liberia was established on the foundation of Christianity, President Sirleaf, like many other well-meaning Liberians, was clear on the issue of separation of church and state.
“The founders of the Republic did not put into the constitution a declaration of Christianity as the nation's religion. The constitution has always allowed freedom of religion or worship. Seeking to prescribe one religion as a state official religion; to do so now, would foment division among our people based on religious beliefs. Liberians have lived together and have worked together willingly in harmony," the President had stated.
The President’s staunch stance against Proposition 24 was supported by the Liberian constitution which clearly separates religion from the state as contained in Article 14 of the organic law.
Article 14 of the Constitution states: 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.”
For us at the Capitol Times, to declare Liberia a Christian State should be neither here nor there. Our honorable members of Parliament who are presently reviewing the controversial Proposition 24 must remain sagacious in their decision to put ink on a document that could shape or wreck our wobbly peace process.
One doesn’t have to belabor the point that Christian practices have been sanctioned by Liberia. Christmas is an official holiday here. The Sabbath is officially observed as a national holiday. The Holy Bible has always formed part of our school curricula.
On the other hand, Islamic holy days are nonofficial, never sanctioned by the state. Neither are the Jewish, Bahai, Confucius, Buddhist or Animist religious holy days observed in Liberia as official holidays.
Now, the citizens are scared because proponents of Proposition 24 themselves either don’t know what they’re getting this country into, or they know but just want to plunge us into deep trouble.
The very Jesus who we profess to defend did not want wish us to fight his battle. When Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priests servant, cutting off his right ear, according to the Bible, Jesus placed back the man’s ear.
As Christians, we can’t fight God’s battle on a state level or with earthy weapons. God, Jesus, Yaweh, Nyesuah, Nangala can fight His own battle in so many ways unfathomable to man.