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, [email protected] or 615-742-5469.


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Theology and Education
Africa University graduates show off their diplomas during ceremonies June 11 at the United Methodist university. The 28th graduation class included 712 students from 18 countries across Africa. Photo courtesy of Africa University.

Africa University celebrates its 28th commencement

Graduating class includes 712 students from 18 countries across Africa.
Theology and Education
The Rev. Julio Andre Vilanculos (center) stands with Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala (right) and the Rev. Jamisse Taimo (left) during his inauguration as rector of the United Methodist University of Mozambique in Cambine, in 2018. Vilanculos graduated from Africa University in 2009 with a degree in theology and a masters in arts and religious studies. File photo by Francisco Cumbe.

Africa University graduates share their gifts

AU alumni are making a difference in many fields and sharing their blessings with The United Methodist Church in Mozambique.
Global Health
Dr. Eliot Chikati (left) and Dr. Tongai Chitsamatanga visit with Portia after a surgery for burn complications at Cure Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe. Chitsamatanga, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, is one of two top surgeons from Zimbabwe who are United Methodists. Photo by Cure Zimbabwe, UM News.

United Methodists enrich health care in Africa

Two of the foremost cardiothoracic and pediatric orthopedic surgeons from Zimbabwe are active United Methodists.