3 Aug 2006

Tokelau atoll row over church attendance

2:36 pm on 3 August 2006

The governing body of Atafu atoll in Tokelau has forced out some of its elected members because they refuse to go to church.

The New Zealand Herald reports that the taupulega or village council members had boycotted church services because of sexual abuse allegations against the pastor, Iosua Faamoni.

The pastor, who never faced charges over the allegations, later apologised and was traditionally pardoned.

However, his return to the role of preacher outraged some of the 500 residents.

For much of the last year, those against Mr Faamoni had shown their disapproval by refusing to attend church services.

Six members of the 15 strong taupulega have now been forcibly removed because of their stance.