2013 in Review: Christians, Muslims Battle for Religious State

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In early March, Christians from around the country under the banner Liberia Restoration to Christian Heritage Committee (LRCHC) gathered at the Capitol Building to present a petition to their lawmakers.

That petition was to declare “Liberia a Christian state.”

The aim of the petitioners was to change Liberia from a circular nation as indicated in the 1986 Constitution, to a Christian state as stated in the preamble of the 1847 Constitution.

“They gathered in their mass with several musical instruments singing songs of praise to God Almighty.”

The importance of said move, they announced, was to prevent the “wrath of God Almighty from punishing the nation for many evils committed.”

Addressing his cheering supporters, Bishop Manasseh Conto stated that it was time for Liberia to return to the 1847 status in order to commit the country to the Lord.

“We want to go back to the days of the old. Give the country back to the Lord in order to save the nation from the many problems faced today,” Bishop Conto asserted.

Receiving the petition on behalf of the Legislature, Representative J. Gabriel Nyenkan and Senator Clarice Jah assured the Christian community of their fullest support in order to pass the legislation.

Rep. Nyenkan described the Christians assembly at the Capitol Building as “civilized and peaceful.”

The Muslims' Reaction

However, in a move to counter the opposing religious faith, Muslims responded with a big gathering, just days after Christians staged their petition. Muslims named national security and political risk as issues associated with returning the country to a single faith.

They argued that transforming a multi-religious state such as Liberia to one faith violates the fundamental rights of others; and as such, they (Muslims) were ready to resist such a measure.
Assembled with various placards indicating the need to maintain the status of a secular state in Liberia, they said they believed that no religious domination or sect should have any exclusive privilege or preference over any other, but should all be treated alike.

The Muslims’ gathering nearly turned violent when lawmakers failed to receive their petition — a similar fate met by their Christian counterparts.

They (Muslim) spent hours on the grounds of the Capitol Building while lawmakers from both houses were locked up in closed-door sessions in their respective chambers.

This move angered members of the second largest faith in the country, and Muslims made several attempts at entering the chambers — to no avail. 

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