October 12, 2012

Ghai's view

Luke Rawalai
Friday, October 12, 2012

WE cannot be endorsing human rights if we strive to make Fiji a Christian State because the two issues contradict each other, says Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai.

Responding to submissions made by groups of citizens around the country to make Fiji a Christian State, Professor Ghai said human rights respected the different religions and faiths in the country.

"Human rights support the freedom of worship of individuals and the right to go about as they wish, free from religious obligations," said Professor Ghai.

"A Christian State would restrict people from exercising their freedom because certain activities will have to be stopped during the day of rest.

"Not everyone is a Christian and a state as such will only give priority to issues regarding Christianity which defies the purpose of the human rights to freedom and recognition of other religions."

Professor Ghai's comments come in the wake of the views of the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau who cautioned the nation to be wary of declaring Fiji a Christian state. In his Independence Day address to the nation on Fiji Day, the President said the nation had already endured enough division over ethnic and religious lines.

Ratu Epeli said the declaration of Fiji as a Christian state — like the common roll system of voting — would only bring more division to Fiji and its people.

"This (Christian state) would effectively further divide our people based on religious beliefs," he said. "I humbly advise that we should tread with the uttermost caution on this issue for I am a firm believer in the age-old adage of 'the separation of the church and the state'."

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