This was the passage from Jesus that kept coming to the mind of the Daily Observer writer when he first read Leroy Sonpon’s story from Nimba County, published in Monday’s edition.
The story said that some members of the Liberian Legislature had met in Ganta, Nimba County to affirm that they intend to approve a particular referendum item for the 2017 elections. That item is to change the Liberian Constitution declaring Liberia a ‘Christian state.’
Several questions immediately arise. First, what are these legislators trying to prove? Second, do they understand what it means to be a Christian?
Thirdly, are they interested in maintaining peace and harmony in Liberia, or do they intend to create another civil conflict?
The first question—what are they trying to prove? Why do they want to undo a precept enshrined in the Liberian Constitution 168 years ago—that no religion should take precedence over another in Liberia? The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, decided to retain this concept, which they borrowed from the
American Constitution—the separation of church and state. It is a concept that the Americans had left behind in England and the rest of Europe—state churches—because they knew it was unjust and ran the risk of creating animosity, division and strife among the populace.
The American Founding Fathers were truly farsighted, for they could have easily have made Christianity supreme in the land, since most of them were Christians. But in their wisdom and foresight, they did not.
The second question: do these Liberian legislators understand what it means to be a Christian? The second part of this question is, how many of them can truly call themselves Christian, when they in fact know what many of them do to get elected? Remember how in her Address to the Nation last Friday, President Sirleaf frowned upon ritualistic killings, which become most prevalent as elections approach in Liberia? How many of those legislators can say that their hands are clean of this murderous vice?
If the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) were brought before them as legislators, how many of them would vote against it? Not many, probably none, because so many of them are members of the Poro Society—and we all know what that means.
Is this the way a true Christian behaves—engaging in ritualistic killings and FGM?
Now to Christ’s warning: “Not everyone that says unto me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.” But who then is fit to enter Heaven? Jesus answered, “He that doeth the will of my Father in Heaven.”
And then Jesus added this, which our Legislators never thought about: “On the last day when they tell him, ‘Lord, in your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons . . .’ Jesus further told them, ‘I will say to them, I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people.’”
And who are the “demons” that our legislators are trying to drive out? Their own brothers and sisters, compatriots, who happen to be of another faith. Why? What crime have they committed? Thomas Jefferson and all the other framers of the American Constitution knew that it was no crime to be of another faith, so they enshrined in their Constitution the sacred principle of freedom of religion.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ went far beyond the toleration of people of other faiths. He admonished his disciples to “Love [even] your enemies, and do good to those who spitefully use you.” On another occasion He proclaimed as the second of “the two great commandments — “Love your neighbors as yourselves.”
The Master set the example Himself when he befriended and liberated the Samaritan woman at the well who did not truly know God.
We ask again: Do our legislators know what it really means to be Christian?
And now to the third question: do our legislators intend to create hatred, resentment and tension among Liberians that could easily lead us to another civil conflict?
Truly, are these people blind and deaf to what is happening all around us every day?
When Sheikh Kafumba Konneh died few months ago, many Christians testified that he was truly a man of peace, who endured the anger of his own fellow Muslims for the sake of peace. AME Zion’s leader, Dorme Lartey, said he once covered his body over the Sheikh because his own people (Muslims) wanted to harm him.
There has been harmony among Christians and Muslims since the founding of this Republic. King Sao Boso was a Muslim, yet he defended the colonists against the anger of his fellow indigenous tribesmen.
This historical fact alone should remind our legislators that we have a lot to gain by maintaining religious harmony in our beloved country.
If Liberian Christians want the country to be a Christian nation, they should apply the principles God laid in the bible and conduct their lives in such a way that others would want to be like them.