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?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! 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-subscriptions
Mission and Ministry
Schoolchildren drink from a borehole at Kalumba Primary School in Mangochi, Malawi, in September 2020. The borehole was drilled by the Malawi government. In response to water scarcity in this east African country, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., has helped fund the drilling of more than 80 boreholes since September. Photo by Francis Nkhoma, UM News.

Church helps drill more than 80 boreholes in Malawi

Since 2010, a partnership between Kansas and Malawi United Methodists spans over 9,000 miles and provides life-changing ministries.
Mission and Ministry
United Nations peacekeepers from Zambia visit with a family while on patrol in the Central African Republic in February, 2020. Following a volatile presidential election there, United Methodists are offering humanitarian aid to people seeking refuge from armed rebels. File photo by Hervé Serefio, United Nations.

Church helps displaced in Central African Republic

Following a volatile presidential election, United Methodists offer shelter and other humanitarian aid to people seeking refuge from armed rebels.
Mission and Ministry
Nyengeterai Mafongoya holds a basket of 20-day-old chicks in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. She started with 20 chicks as part of a United Methodist Women poultry project in February and grown her brood to 100 birds.  Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Cooped up by pandemic, entrepreneurs turn to chickens

In a year dominated by COVID-19, food insecurity and other crises, some United Methodists in Zimbabwe are celebrating booming business ventures and new career opportunities for women.