United Methodist leaders oppose legislation to make Liberia Christian nation

United Methodist Bishop John G. Innis opposes a proposal approved by a recent constitutional review committee to make Liberia a Christian country.

“Liberians, especially Christians, do not need any legislation to practice or expand their faith in Liberia,” Innis said in an interview after delivering his annual Easter sermon at First United Methodist Church. Other United Methodist leaders agreed, calling for tolerance and evangelism to promote Christianity.

The decision was one of several approved during the four-day constitutional review conference held in Gbarnga. The committee has been charged with reviewing the country’s 1986 constitution. The proposal has sparked debate in the country among Christians, Muslims, and civil society organizations.

The conference recommendations will be presented to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a member of First United Methodist Church Monrovia, who would then send them to the national legislature for approval. If approved, the recommendations would to Liberia’s elections commission for a national referendum.

Innis: 'Christ did not force people to follow him'

Innis noted that Liberia was built on Christian principles.

“We don’t need constitutional provisions to practice our faith and expand our denomination in this country,” he said.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ did not force people to follow him, so Christians should not advocate for legislation that will create conflict for our nation.”

Baptist, Catholic and Muslim leaders have also expressed opposition to the proposal according to news reports.

The Rev. Julius Williams, a United Methodist elder, said Christians can “intensify their evangelistic strategies” to increase the number of Christians in Liberia.

“The more we evangelize, the more Christian nation we will become, we don’t need any constitution to help us fulfill our Christian mandate,” Williams added.

Togba-Nah Tipoteh, a United Methodist who was also a presidential candidate in the last three elections, said religious tolerance is a “peaceful pillar” on which Liberia has thrived.

“Any law that interferes with that tolerance is simply a recipe for trouble,” he said.

*Swen is editor and publisher of West African Writers, an online publication about United Methodist happenings in West Africa and assists the denomination in Liberia with coverage for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5469.

Latest News

Global Health
Since the start of a mobile medical clinic in 2018, mothers in Gilgil, Kenya, are able to get their children vaccinated and receive other medical services. Angela Miloti walked 15 miles to have her child vaccinated at the clinic, which is a collaboration between Trinity Mission Dispensary, a Trinity United Methodist Church project, and the Rotary Club of Gilgil. Photo by Faith Wanjiru.

Mobile clinic saves lives in rural Kenya

Cooperative venture between United Methodist congregation and Rotary Club offers healing and hope to previously neglected villages.
Evangelism
Orphan children receive a goat as part of a project in Mahenye, Zimbabwe. The recipients must return the first female progeny from their goat to the project, which is then given to a new orphan. The program is one of many self-help projects for disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe funded by three Florida United Methodist churches. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UMNS.

In Zimbabwe, self-help projects spark evangelism

New United Methodist congregation in Mahenya community works with Florida churches to improve livelihoods.
Mission and Ministry
The congregation at Inner-City United Methodist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe, has recommitted to helping stop the AIDS epidemic by taking part in the Common Voice Initiative advocacy program. Photo by Priscilla Muzerengwa for UMNS.

Zimbabwe church vows to halt AIDS epidemic

With new resources, ongoing advocacy and education, the Common Voice Initiative envisions a world without HIV/AIDS.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE