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  • Nigel Akuani

Students take on ‘Declaration of PNG as a Christian country’

Port Moresby: The imposed declaration of Papua New Guinea as a Christian country by Prime Minister James Marape in 2020 has caused much controversy but the issue has to be placed in a broader perspective and viewed from different angles.

This was the overall statement by four Grade-12 students from St Charles Lwanga Secondary School who appeared on the Chat Room on Wednesday 9th June 2021, as they discussed the ‘Declaration of PNG as a Christian Country’.

The four students who took up the challenge of expressing their opinion on the topic clearly indicated that they were well-versed about the issue. Their discussions focused on the definition of a Christian, changing laws to achieve Christianity, the need to practice good deeds and living the faith, reality being endured by the country and its people, contradicting sections of the PNG Constitution, imposition of a State-Church, advantages and the adverse effects on existing laws and current practices and beliefs.

Sandy Levi, in her support for respect of Sections 45 & 46 ‘Freedom of Conscience, Thought and Religion, and Freedom of Expression’ of the PNG Constitution, said the Declaration would seem fitting but it had to be made sure that it did not infringe the specified sections. “The Declaration creates more room for our Christian Faith, however, if introducing a State-Church is a requirement then it will breach and undermine those sections that will lead to Religious conflicts and chaos, and even bar foreign investors from entering the country because of the ban on their Religion,” she suggested.

She disagreed with the proposition for a State-Church and said it would only cause more harm than good. “Having a State-Church will mean a dominant Church that will impose its very own beliefs onto others and this will cause a detrimental division and conflict between the already established denominations,” she cautioned.

Reminding listeners and viewers of what it meant to be Christian, Margaret Stanley, said it simply required putting into practice the principles and values that Christ. “Becoming a Christian cannot be attained by amending existing or introducing new laws, instead it is up to every person’s own personal conviction, and their faith and belief that defines them,” she stated.

Salome Komung, described how she was drawn into the topic and said it was an issue that required citizens to critically analyze the ‘silver lining’ to identify any pressing concerns that needed resolving.

Ending the discussion on a strong note, Abraham Kakarere. He made a call for opinions on such matters to be respected and considered, and urged for the government not to impose any laws, beliefs or practices that would be contradicting current practices. “On a global level, changing laws will not change how other countries view us nor will it change our attitude, so we have to start taking action by changing our lifestyle both mentally and physically by involving ourselves in our Christian Faith,” he stressed.

Commenting on Tribe 92FM’s Facebook Page, Norah Stanley, said she agreed with the Declaration but not the idea of a National Church as there were many Christian Churches throughout the country. “We do need Christian principles that can govern our moral values and this should be taught from early childhood education and in all our schools both primary & high school,” she said.

She added, “If we want to have a healthy nation free from corruption then we need these values to be taught to our children so that we produce a good healthy workforce for our country.”

The program’s next session, set for Wednesday 16th June, will have students from Limana Vocational Training Centre highlighting the importance of sharing ‘Good News’.

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