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Accept secular state

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THE newly-elected president of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, Reverend Tevita Nawadra Banivanua, believes the church has prepared itself to work in a secular state nation as per the Constitution.

Mr Nawadra, of Moala in Lau, was elected yesterday as the church's new leader.

While the status of secular state was a totally new experience for Fiji, he said it was important that people prepare d themselves to live by the law.

"The secular state is here. The church should prepare itself because it is here already, it is legally binding. The church's mission is to prepare itself to live in it," Mr Nawadra told this newspaper.

"The church should brace itself for this so we won't be caught by surprise. We want to be with the law. If the law says it is a secular state, we will abide by that.

"We have always been a law abiding church and whatever law prevails in our country that we are guided by, we will accept it that way."

Earlier in the day, the then interim president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca reminded members of the church to accept that Fiji was a secular state.

"But being in a secular state does not stop the church in its mission and evangelise and tell people that Jesus Christ is the only saviour in the world," Mr Ratabacaca said.

"It would be for us to do our work and not to rely on the issue of secular state to affect our work but in fact, to motivate us in the work we do.

"Nothing is holding us back, there is freedom of religion in the country so we should be doing our work."

The Constitution in section 22 states:

22-1: Every person has the right to freedom of religion, conscience and belief.

2. Every person has the right, either individually or in community with others, in private or in public, to manifest and practise their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching.

3. Every person has the right not to be compelled to- a) act in any manner that is contrary to the person's religion or belief or b) take an oath, or take an oath in a manner, that;- i) is contrary to the person's religion or belief or; ii) requires the person to express a belief that the person does not hold.

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