18 May 2005

Fiji vice-president opposes establishment of a Christian state

9:35 am on 18 May 2005

Fiji's vice president has warned that people wanting to convert the country into a Christian State are overlooking the potential for division and conflict.

The Fiji Times reports that Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi issued the warning at a Religion and Governance Forum in Suva yesterday.

Ratu Joni said Fiji was a country where the overwhelming majority of people were religious in one way or another.

He said it would not be wise to establish one official faith where there are many faiths.

Ratu Joni said this would "suggest a hierarchy where some are better than others."

Meanwhile, the executive director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Rev Aquila Yabaki, has blamed elements of the Methodist church for past racial divisions in the country.

The Rev Yabaki said some Methodist ministers are allowed to merely cheer on whatever political party supported ethno-nationalism.

He said Methodist pulpits continued to preach that indigenous Fijians were God's chosen people and this self-asserting theology continues fuelling Fijian nationalism.