#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Narsey: Ending our cycles of religious intolerance

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Narsey: Ending our cycles of religious intolerance

PERSECUTED: Fiji's Methodist Church followers. pic superstock.com
  
"Today, Hindus, Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims and even Indo-Fijian Methodists, are allowed by this Military Regime to freely practise their religion. But not the indigenous Fijian Methodists."
 
By Wadan Narsey

For 95% of the time, the activities of Fiji’s religions have been good for Fiji’s development.  For perhaps 5% of the time, their actions have caused great harm.

 
Currently, the Military Regime continues its persecution of the Methodist Church, blatantly contravening Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Basic Human Rights:  “Everyone has the right to freedom .... either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

 
Other religions in Fiji who are allowed to freely have their gatherings and functions, remain quiet.

 
These Catholic, Anglican, Hindu, and Muslim religious organizations are at a crossroad in Fiji’s troubled history.

 
They can do the difficult but right thing today, by speaking up to express their disapproval of the Regime’s treatment of the Methodist Church.  Or, wallowing in the past injustices, they can remain silent.

 
If religious leaders remain quiet, then the religious followers and their educated leaders, must rise to the challenge.

 
If both religious leaders and followers remain silent during these troubled times, Fiji is unlikely to come out of our cycles of religious intolerance.

 
Easy to have revenge
No doubt, many Hindus, Catholics and Muslims feel a quiet satisfaction that the Methodists are being persecuted by the Military Regime - “maleka” - “now you see what it feels like” to be persecuted!

 
They, of course, remember 1987 and 2000 when the Methodist Church supported the military coups that removed democratically elected governments, and demanded the imposition of a “Christian State” and “Sunday Bans”.

 
Temples and mosques had been burnt creating great psychological anxiety, distress and anger among Hindu and Muslim followers, many of whom began to feel that Fiji could never be their home, if they could not freely practice their religion. Many did emigrate.

 
But in 1987, the Catholic and other Christian clerics and adherents (and don’t forget the few conscientious Methodists like Rev. Koroi and others) earned huge goodwill from Hindus and Muslims by speaking up for their religious freedoms.

 
This no doubt also encouraged Hindu and Muslim participation in the Council of Churches, which played a powerful bridging role between religions and ethnic groups.

 
Today’s Catholics and Hindus as guilty as 1987 Methodists
Since 2006, the Catholic and Hindu religious organisations have behaved just as badly as the Methodists did in 1987.

 
They came out in support of a military coup that treasonously removed a democratically elected government.

 
The leaders of the Catholic Church, the Hindu Sanatan Dharam and Arya Samaj, and the Muslim League took prominent part in the NCBBF whose culmination was the People’s Charter, with its first paragraph swearing allegiance to the 1997 Constitution.

 
Many Catholics and Hindus took up positions in the Military Regime’s Boards.

 
They continued to support the Regime, even after the Appeal Court ruled in 2009 that the 2006 coup and the President’s actions were illegal and treasonous.

 
The military allegations of widespread corruption, both financial and electoral, have never been proven after five years- and are unlikely to be.

 
Without any public statement against what has happened since 2006 and 2009, these religious leaders remain collaborators in a treasonous military coup, and all its resultant evils: lack of accountability for hundreds of millions of tax-payers funds, destruction of the economy, draconian media censorship, and personal enrichment, to name just a few.

 
These actions of the Catholic, Hindu and Muslim organisations are no different today from those of the Methodists in 1987.

 
They have never publicly withdrawn their support of the 2006 Military coup, and they do not speak out in support of their sister Methodist Church who are persecuted.

 
Of course, neither has the Methodist Church ever made clear public statements admitting that their support of the 1987 and 2000 coups was treasonous and morally wrong.

 
And so the sad vicious cycle of religious intolerance continues, building up dams of evil for the future.

 
Religion is personal AND social
The purest and truest religion is between the individual “Person” and “God”.  There is no real need for religious organisations, leaders, buildings, or gatherings.

 
Yet all religions the world over have organisations, leaders, buildings of worship and gatherings.  These all strengthen the social bonds that the adherents have with each other, and enable them to collectively achieve many other good things in life often neglected by the State.

 
Despite our destructive military coups, Fiji is still one of the more developed countries in the Pacific because all our many religious organisations, have very successfully built and managed schools, technical and agricultural colleges, now universities, old peoples’ homes, orphanages, and welfare organizations.

 
Despite their great poverty, they also build ostentatious churches, temples and mosques, even though God has no need for physical buildings.

 
But one of the social benefits of religion, that even agnostics like me acknowledge, is that religious “peer group” social pressure is often the only thing that stops many ordinary humans from doing evil towards their fellow citizens.

 
For this valuable social aspect of religion, people must be allowed to freely gather together - to pray, to sing, to raise funds, and to discuss whatever matters they wish to discuss.  It is their basic human right to do so.

 
No one should be allowed to stop this basic human right, least of all an illegal Military Regime which has callously turned its tax-payer funded guns, on its own people.

 
Today, Hindus, Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims and even Indo-Fijian Methodists, are allowed by this Military Regime to freely practise their religion. 

 
But not the indigenous Fijian Methodists. 

 
Learning from the past

No religious organisation today can sit on their high horses and say “We are innocent”.

 
Many anonymous Methodist bloggers look back with great regret, to their own support of the coups in 19897 and 2000, and turned a blind eye to all the resulting injustices to others.

 
Today, many genuine Catholics must be wondering whether their support of the 2006 military coup has done far more damage to Fiji and the interests of poor, than the good done by small sums thrown around for social welfare and squatter housing.

 
Clerics who supported the Military’s alleged electoral reform after the 2006 coup, must be wondering, whether they were merely used to justify a coup, and perhaps will soon be recalled out of their little boxes, for the next Act in the Military Charade.

 
Many ordinary Hindus, following the Military requirement for permits to have religious gatherings like Ram Naumi, now must have great doubts about the honesty, integrity and accountability of the Military Regime, which has also destroyed the sugar industry, and persecuted their political and trade union leaders.

 
Ending the cycle of religious intolerance
Religious leaders have a glorious opportunity to rise above past discordance and defend the religious freedoms of all religions, Methodists and others, while all acknowledging their mistakes in the past.

 
Religious leaders, who know the importance of repentance, are surely ideal people to take the lead in reconciliation in Fiji today, especially as most should not have personal material agendas (although some clearly do).

 
It is in such difficult times that religious leaders can prove their leadership mantles, just as some did in 1987 and 2000.

 
Here also is a valuable opportunity for the many intellectuals of all races, who support these religious bodies, to offer their wise advice and guide the religious leaders.

 
If the religious and intellectual leaders fail to lead, then they place enormous burdens on ordinary Christians, Hindus and Muslims to “do the right thing”.

 
Usually, ordinary people can’t witness all the global nightmares of religious intolerance and violence - between Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Muslims, Hindus and Christians.

 
Good people of Fiji: you have an opportunity to end the cycles of religious bigotry that began in 1987.

 
Let not the evils of media censorship and Public Emergency Decrees, or the pernicious desire for “revenge”, stop you in this worthy endeavor.

 
Blessed will be they who extend their helping hands to those who are down. And doubly blessed will be Fiji.       

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Waden Narsey, has again articulated the realities of the strength of the religious churches in the immense work in containing the level of "evil" and the level of largely unrecognized social work costing huge sums of money that should be the responsibility of Government.It is sad that this effort is never recognised in financial support by government both past and present!

Waden also raises a more moral issue, that, he shouldn't need to do given that these churches should be the advocates and indeed the champions of moral correctness! He raises the question of the resounding silence of the non Methodist churches including the Catholic and Hindu religious, when restrictions are made specific to the Methodist Fijian Church. I must admit I did not realise that the Hindu Methodist Church was omitted!
When will the right thing be done? At the pearly gates will be too late!
Waden as always critical,truthful but fair.

Anonymous said...

Impassioned plea for religious tolerance. However the writer has carefully skirted the need for separation between church and politics.

Anonymous said...

We all need to be united and forgive one another.
we are all sinners not saints.
god teaches us to love god our fellow man.
no race. only god childrens.
god bless.
Rajesh

Anonymous said...

Having spent quite some time in Fiji, I noticed that the Methodist church is more or less 'pure'. At the village level, it is mixed up with almost every aspects of the villagers' life. Religion and Politics are ONE single thing, just like in the olden days somehow. We must keep in mind that villages are very small and for the Fijians, it is not possible to have the same 'distance' from their leaders that we have in the North. If the methodist church was out of politics, everything would be fine but it seems that from my observations and knoledge of Fiji, that is impossible at the village level.

Probably that problems will be solved the day Fijians will progressively give up religion as we have seen in the North. A country probably needs a large proportion of atheists, agnostics and people not going to church in order to reach 'religious stability'. The next generations will probably be very different from their parents. My perception is that the current failure of Fiji is more the failure of a generation than the failure of Fiji. There is a future in Fiji.

Anonymous said...

@Annon5:21pm..Please enlighten the readers of C4.5 exactly how a human being will be able to truly separate his or her spiritual life from his or her physical existence i.e.church and politics as you term it in a collective sense,while tolerance is as much a virtue as patience and is found in individuals who value life and freedom above everything else...what`s your point?...Vosa mai me matata!!!.

Anonymous said...

@anon 6:42 - your ignorant colonialistic mentality suggests we follow the way people in the North live to reach your so called religious stability..........reality check, please......this is Fiji and we live and breathe our unique way of life.....if GOD intended we face the current situation we are facing, so be it......we know HE will provide a way out for us.......so to compromise our religious belief and become atheists to get that stability you thinking just goes to show how wayward people like you can be to understand the way of the Fijian People......so stay out of our business and keep those illconcieved ideas of yours to people in the Northern Hemisphere....no wonder you have all sorts of problems over there.....

Anonymous said...

24 years for Methodist Church of Fiji to realise that what happened or what they did from 1987 was "wrong doing" (burning temples, mosques, terrorising and belittling other religious groups). You people have a lot to learn and there is a lot of corruption in Fiji. We need some honest and reliable people to lead Fiji. I can't see any in Fiji, look overseas, maybe a white man/woman can do a better job getting things on the right track. And cut off military. Do we really need military in Fiji? And if we do, for what??? Wake up people!!

Anonymous said...

Your learned and thought-provoking comments are more than appreciated Doc Narsey.
However, you did not comment on the scenarios behind the coups here. The reasons/scenario were ALL different.
Comment please.

Stan said...

@Anonymous 5.16..."Hindu methodist church"...what is that?...you mean the Indian division right?

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr Narsey...It is spiritually true that one's spiritual existence is through one's relationship with the Almighty....the church as a whole contributes to one's spiritual life but it rests entirely on the individ.
And i hope that the illegal PM (PATHETIC MASTER) & his illegal goons learn from what you have said.It is a pity as a Fijian living abroad to note the illegal regime has resorted to religious segregation,Lord please have pity on these poor souls in this illegal regime.Enlighten there lives so that they will wake up from there evil deeds.

THUMBS UP FOR DEMOCRACY.......

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Narsey for your view. I do not think that the Methodist supported the coup from the start since most people did not know what a coup was. It was Rabuka's smart reasoning that brain washed and tempted the methodist into believing the conman. Rabuka was quite Influential because he was a methodict himself.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11PM. You are yet another of those barking up the wrong tree. Rabuka was merely used in the 87 coup. He was not the mastermind. He was right man for the job being the most popular officer amongst the rank and file of the military then. One does not need to be an Einstein to discern that truth. He has kept a lot to himself all these years. His regrets of what he did is evident in his formulation of 97 constitution which made him very unpopular with indeginous fijians and methodist church. It cost him his political career in 99 elections and the demise of SVT. I guess those who have been following Fiji politics know who was the real mastermind of our first coup.

Anonymous said...

I am an ardent reader and follower of Dr. Narsey's contributions on this blog. I support and fully understand where he is coming from.....but at the same time, I'm a practising Fijian Catholic (born and bred). Please, my fellow Fijians.....do not paint us all with the same brush. To say that the Catholic Church is behind Vore is incorrect. We, the members of the Church, make up the church.....and not all of us are for this regime. Just wanted to put that point out there. To my Lotu Wesele brothers and sisters.....we feel your pain and we're right next to you, ready to fight the good fight. Remember Corinthians 3:14

Anonymous said...

@anon 8:15...

i think that you don't understand very well what 'colonialism' is all about. Before colonization, Fijians were eating long pigs.

If only you had some common sense we could discuss but unfortunately you believe in a God that will save you from your own foolish actions... wow!!!! can you explain me why atheist countries like Japan, Korea or Sweden are doing so well?

Anonymous said...

Prof. Narsey, God bless you for challenging these religious bodies who cannot think outside of their religious and sracial groups. Do the muslims and hindus have Fijian division like the Methodist church? NO! Why? Because they are racial groups under the guise of religion. As for the Methodist Indian division they are traitors to the Methodist church and the God they acknowledge will make them pay dearly for their support of Bainimarama and his groups. Only the Indian Division could have advised Bainimarama of youth fellowship, women fellowship, to be allowed. Yes, Indian Division if you thought no one could find out about your secrets with this illegal government you were wrong. get down on your knees and pray now for the Methodist church now.
God Bless Fiji and her people.

Anonymous said...

trust c4.5 and wadan narsey to go out on a limb

Anonymous said...

I have greatest respect for Dr Narsey and thank him for his genuine concern for his country and its people.He is correct in supporting the Indigenous Methodist church.I think Marist Brothers will be very proud of their former student and Catholic education.
However I would very respectfully like to point out that Methodist church did nothing, when Indofijians were bashed, homes looted and subjected to severe oppression during 1987 and 2000.
Therefore main stream Methodist church in Fiji has no credibility.Instead of looking after the most vulnerable,weak and oppressed,it elected to support those who caused this misery to Indofijians.
It is ironic that Qarese supporters which includes Nationalists and Methodist church want democracy, when Qarese himself said democracy was an imported flower.They want 1997 Constitution restored when Qarese wanted to change it.
I say we support to death the right for Methodists to worship with complete freedom .But we should condemn its involvement in politics.

Anonymous said...

Politics and religion divide the people of Fiji. Why can't we just get on with normality and think about the countries progress. Methodist Church leaders, stop mixing in politics. God doesn't tell us to involve in politics nor to display any adverse behaviour even if that is our worst enemy. Than why are we burning buses, police bures, tagging etc..I strongly feel that God does not support us if we are taking this stance or is He?? Stop this religion bullshit and get some real leaders who can lead Fiji into a new era. People who can think about financial gain, creating more jobs, stop the brain drain, value for money etc..I can do this but unfortunately I do not wish to end up like other leaders, being taken over at gun point and spend rest of my life traumatised by some soldier who doesn't even know what he is doing is right or not?
Race is an issue in Fiji? It is a bitter truth. This was somewhat suppressed until the 1987 coup. Thanks to those who planned it in the name of indeginious people but the real motive behind it was, yes, to cover for corruption and mis use of public funds. And this coup is a never ending problem in Fiji. It can stop for a decade or two but than someone will pop over with a bunch of idiots and ruin the country.
So wake up people and my Methodist church people stop this criminal behaviour because you may be terrorising some innoncent people.

Anonymous said...

@ANONYMOUS 5.21 PM......

IF YOU CALL FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH FROM POLITICS, ......

THEN WE SHOULD SEPARATE MILITARY ROLES FROM POLITICS!!!!!!

IF YOU ARGUE THAT MILITARY IS AN ESSSENTIAL PART OF POLITICS, THEN IN FIJI'S CONTEXT, THE CHURCH (ESP, METHODIST CHURCH) HAS BEEN VERY MUCH PLAY A BIG ROLE IN FII POLITICS.

Anonymous said...

@10.14 AM,

PLEASE DO NOT ACCUSE OR DENOUNCE THE METHODIST INDIAN DIVISION.

MAYBE THEY WERE TACTICAL IN APPROACH COMAPRED TO THE MAIN METHODIST CHURCH,

HOWEVER, WE SHOULD ALL BLAME THE MILITARY FOR NOT ALLOWING THE METHODIST CHURCH TO GO AHEAD WITH THEIR MEETINGS...

ONE CONCLUSION......MAYBE , THE REGIME ARE LIVING IN FEAR OF GIVING OUT GUNS TO THEIR FELLOW MILITARY MEN, OR IT MIGHT TURN BACK TO THEM(REGIME)

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS 0751 AM

If in Fijian context Methodist wants to play big role in politics, then do not march or rally for democracy.
Methodist church is not the voice of majority.

Anonymous said...

I am a military personal and a METHODIST too I will NOT shoot fellow METHODISTS

Anonymous said...

Well said Dr Nasey.

I just cannot believe that Fiji's Church leaders are quite when their Methodists brothers and sisters are being put in a dark cage. Archbishop Romero stoodup and died for the cause human injustices and violation of the poor.Religion must have a say in the affairs of the State, Politics and the Global World. It strikes a balance of the need to have good morally correct leadership that the people need to have. A style of leadership that liberates its people
This is A Blatant disregard for Human Rights instruments and a Work of Lucipher the saint of the devil.
You Church Leaders will all be asked by God 'Did you raise your voice against suppression and the oppresion of my People as i have appointed you with? Did you liberated my people as i my son had done for mankind? WHAT WILL YOU SAY? think of this you bunch of cowards.

Anonymous said...

What Fiji is heading to is no doubt CHAOS in the Future. The Methodists have been boxed in a tight, Dark corner.
One day they shall rise again BUT ONLY THIS TIME IN ANGER. The majority of Methodists are Indigenous Fijians. When Fijians are angry because they have been suppressed for too long - THATS DANGER. Anybody wanna bet? You watch.

Tevita Temo said...

O Viti na Kenani vou ni Pasifika..eda vakataki ira jiko oqo na Isireli ena nodra kau mai Ijipita ki Kenani. Eda na sotava jiko na dredre, vosavosa, rarawa, tagi..au kerei keda meda vosota ga vakalailai..eda na yaco dina ga kina noda Viti vou..
Oau lotu wesele kau via vakarorogo tikoga se cava e via vosa kina na Kalou kina noqu vanua..

Anonymous said...

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke

Jesus rebuked the church at Laodicea for doing nothing. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:15-17).
Too many Christians and too many churches do nothing. They are standing idly by, they are mere spectators. They sit on the sidelines instead of actively participating and working for the good. If good wins, they join in the celebration though they did nothing to produce the victory. If evil wins, they will complain long and loud though their own apathy helped produce the undesirable result.
When Jesus found a fig tree with "nothing thereon, but leaves only" He cursed the tree and "presently the fig tree withered away" (Matt. 21:19). What will He do with those who claim to be good and yet who do nothing? John the baptist warned, "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10; John 15:2).
They Help Evil To Triumph
When good men do nothing, evil triumphs. Evil, sin and sinful men must be opposed. God commands those who are good, not just to avoid evil but actively oppose it.
Christians are to not only to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but (also) reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). Those who do nothing about sin and evil, help the sin and evil to prevail. One who is silent when there are those around him in sin becomes a partaker with them (Eph. 5:7).