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
Mission and Ministry
Husen Chacha, project supervisor of a farming project sponsored by Moheto First United Methodist Church in Kenya’s Migori County, removes the husk from maize to demonstrate the quality of his plants. The church’s partnership with Pannar Seed Company has helped farmers improve their crops. The church also is offering training in new farming techniques and extension services. Photo by Gad Maiga, UM News.

Church farming project grows skills in rural Kenya

Moheto First United Methodist Church extends training opportunities and offers seed funding to farmers.
Global Health
During consultations in Mabumbuza, Mozambique, mothers wait in line with their young children to receive medication at a mobile clinic led by The United Methodist Church in partnership with the Mozambique Ministry of Health. Photo by António Wilson, UM News.

United Methodist health partnership offers hope

Focusing on pregnant women and young children, church’s mobile clinic brigades serve isolated communities.
Disaster Relief
Flood survivors receive kits prepared by The United Methodist Church. Traces of mud left by the fury of the Cambambe-Dondo waters are visible. Photo by Orlando da Cruz, UM News.

United Methodists in Angola support flood survivors

Angola West Conference mobilizes to provide food and other relief as heavy rains destroy homes and other infrastructure.