Many persons have described Proposition 24, which seeks to legislate Liberia a Christian state as written by the Constitution Review Committee (CRC), as divisive, intolerant and misguided.
This is one Proposition in the entire CRC’s 25 Propositions that is being considered a move to bring a dark cloud over the Christian faith—making its purpose more political than the main objective of winning souls for Christ.
Although Baptists have long since denounced the Proposition, the president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Education Convention (LBMEC) is also warning Liberians against legislating their faith, adding, “Our cause as Christians is not of this dusty planet.”
LBMEC president, Dr. Olu Menjay, therefore, called on proponents of the ‘divisive campaign’ to put an end to their quest, “because as Christians, you don’t have to legislate your faith by law, but by preaching the good news through Jesus Christ in all parts of the earth.”
Menjay’s warning was contained in his convocation message delivered on Sunday at program marking the official induction ceremony of Dr. Terry Leonard Henry, as the seventh president of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, in Paynesville, outside Monrovia. Menjay preached on the theme, “What Comes After Therefore.”
The ceremony was attended by an array of clergies and other well-wishers.
The proposition 24 is an outshoot of the CRC process, headed by Cllr. Gloria M. Scott, which gathered through a consultative process throughout the 73 electoral districts of the country, 25 Propositions for possible amendments or changes to the 1986 Constitution through a referendum.
The CRC’s work was subsequently reported to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who wanted it tested at the referendum.
Discussions surrounding this proposition may have waned in recent months, but this does not mean the sentiments it has sparked have waned either.
For that reason, Dr. Menjay said it is not in the interest of the Christian faith and it would be the worst thing for a Liberian Christian or Christians anywhere to legislate their faith.
Menjay’s comments are confirmation of the biblical inscription, “Let your light so shine before men so that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
He is the latest to join an array of eminent and influential Liberians including politicians, business people, students and traditional leaders as well as other religious leaders, who have condemned the aim of the preposition.
Members of the House of Representatives, at the end of last year endorsed seven out of the proposed 25 Propositions submitted by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as “items” for referendum.
Proposition 24 or “Christianizing Liberia” was placed on hold by the lawmakers for further debate, but there is unsubstantiated information that lawmakers are intending on resurrecting the debate to appease votes from the Liberian populace at the October polls.
The lawmakers reached the decision in November, last year during the fourth day sitting of the Second Extraordinary Session based on a report from the Joint Committee on Good Governance and Governance Reform, Judiciary and Elections and Inauguration chair by Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry Younquoi.
The passage of the seven Propositions by the House of Representatives would be concurred by the Senate and further be confirmed in a Joint Resolution by the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the signatures of at least two-thirds of the membership from each House prior to being sent to President Sirleaf.
The passage of the propositions for the referendum follows more than a year of debates on the amendment of the Constitution.
Last Thursday the House Plenary decisively agreed on Propositions 1 to 3, which say tenures for the President, Vice President and members of House of Representatives should be reduced from six years to four years; and the Senate’s should be reduced from nine to six years.
Propositions 6 and 7 reject Dual Citizenship and demand the restriction of Liberian citizenship to persons of Negro descent only.
The House Plenary has also passed the date for election, to be changed from the second week in October to the second week in March of the election year, to be tried in the referendum as well as the enhancement of women participation in governance and national affairs of Liberia.
It was discussed that the affirmative action clause be recognized as the seventh item for the referendum, which would take in Affirmative Action for Equal Participation and Representation.
In March of 2013, a Christian organization under the banner “National Christian Council of Liberia” presented a petition to the Legislative body requesting that Liberia be recognized as a Christian state. It has been in committee room for years.
According to their petition, Liberia is losing its Christian heritage and as such, there is a desire for the country to return to its Christian status, though there is no proof that Liberia was originally declared a Christian state.
But members of the House of Representatives, perhaps, taking into consideration several implications among which may be security, have put the “Christian State” proposition on hold.
The lawmakers concluded that in line with Article 91 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, all propositions expected to be transformed into Legislative proposals for passage would only be allowed after being signed by two-thirds of both Houses of the Legislature.