Could Liberia be officially Christian?
THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IN LIBERIA is gathering signatures to petition the legislature for a constitutional change declaring Liberia an officially Christian state.
A bill submitted by the Senior Senator of Bong County Jewel Howard Taylor, wife of Liberia's former president Charles Taylor, seeks to make Christianity a state religion and all Christian holidays national commemorations. The Senior Senator of Bong County is a member of the Restoration Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia.
Mrs. Taylor argues that people are misusing Liberia's secular status by advocating for things she deems unhealthy for the future of the country, such as same-sex marriage and the abolition of teaching Christian ethics (Bible) in Liberian public schools.
The founding of Liberia in 1847 by Christians in a church is a well known part of Liberian history. Liberia was treated as a Christian nation until the Presidency of Samuel K. Doe in the 1980s when the country was declared a secular state. According to the 2008 census, 85.6% of Liberians are Christian while the Muslim population numbers 12.2%. Traditional African religions make up just 0.6% of the population, while those with no religion account for 1.4%.
Rev. Gardiah Johnson, a pastor who heads the Christian supporting arm of the bill thus far has solicited over 250,000 signatures for support. Johnson believes that passage of such a law will make Liberians mindful not to do just anything in the name of a secular state.
Sheik Karfoma Conneh, Muslim representative at the inter-religious council of Liberia, strongly condemned the bill calling it an attempt to marginalize Muslims in the country.
Other critics of the Christian-nation campaign hold that such petitions would endanger the survival of the state, and might open Liberia up for sectarian violence. Critics like Kpo Nyahn Kai have published their reactions to the campaign in The Advocate, an online publication.
Kpo Nyahn Kai says Christians are responsible for Liberia's current underdevelopment. He strongly opposes the Christianization of Liberia, arguing that people of other religions have an equal right and ownership of the Liberian state. He further recounts that, from the regime of the Methodist preacher William V. S. Tubman to that of the Baptist Deacon Charles Taylor, Christian leaders have subjected Liberians to torture, execution and human-rights abuses.
Media Project member Francis Brewer contributed to this report from Monrovia, Liberia.