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Religion in Samoa



religion in Samoa encompasses a range of groups but 98% of the population of Samoa is Christian the following is a distribution of Christian groups as of 2011 the most recent census available congregational Christian 32% Roman Catholic 19% LDS 15% Methodist 14% Assemblies of God 8% and seventh-day Adventists 4% groups together constituting less than 5% of the population include Baha'i Jehovah's Witnesses Congregational Church of Jesus Nasreen non-denominational Protestant Baptist Worship Center peace Chapel Samoa evangelism Elam church and Anglican a comparison of the 2006 and 2011 censuses shows a slight decline in the membership of major denominations and an increase in participation in non-traditional and evangelical groups although there is no official estimate there are reportedly small numbers of Hindus Buddhists and Jews primarily in Apia the country has one of the world's eight Baha'i houses of worship there is a small Muslim community in one mosque status of government respect for religious freedom the Constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom the Constitution provides for the right to choose practice and change the religion of one's choice legal protections covered discrimination or persecution by private as well as government actors the Constitution provides freedom from unwanted religious education in schools and gives each religious group the right to establish its own schools nevertheless of 2009 education policy enforced since 2010 makes Christian instruction compulsory in public primary schools and optional in public secondary schools the government Institute's the policy and consistently in government schools across the country with little if any public concern or opposition church-run pastoral schools in most villages traditionally provide religious instruction after school hours the government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays Good Friday Easter Monday white Monday Children's Day and Christmas the government does not require religious groups to register a government established Commission charged with recommending possible constitutional amendments concerning religious freedom completed its collection of public submissions at the end of 2010 by the end of 2012 the government had not publicly released the reporter tabled it in Parliament in June 2017 the Samoan Parliament passed a bill to increase support for Christianity in the country's constitution including a reference to the Trinity according to the diplomat what Samoa has done his shift references to Christianity into the body of the constitution giving the text far more potential to be used in legal processes the preamble to the Constitution already described the country as an independent state based on Christian principles and Samoan custom and traditions status of societal respect for a religious freedom as of 2012 there were occasional reports of societal discrimination based on a religious affiliation belief or practice in addition prominent societal leaders repeatedly publicly emphasized that the country was Christian public discussion of religious issues often included negative references to non-christian religions traditionally villages tended to have one primary Christian Church village chiefs often chose the religious denomination of their extended families many larger villages had multiple churches serving different denominations and coexisting peacefully however new religious groups sometimes faced resistance when attempting to establish themselves in some villages there remained minor tensions between file Samoa the samoan way and individual religious rights one of the elements of fossa MOA was the traditional tightly knit village community often village elders and the community at large were not receptive toward those who attempted to introduce another denomination or religion into the community while underreported observers stated that in many villages throughout the country leaders for bad individuals to belong to churches outside of the village or to exercise their right not to worship villagers in violation of such rules faced fines and/or banishment from the village there was a high level of religious observance and strong societal pressure at village in local levels to participate in church services and other activities and to support church leaders and projects financially in some denominations financial contributions often totaled more than 30 percent of family income this issue has gained media attention as some members of parliament have spoken out about pressure on families to give disproportionate amounts of their incomes to churches

Otis Rodgers

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