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Joint religious influence and political authority corrupts

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Editor,

Senituli Penitani contrives to cover-up the evils of non-separation of Church and State. He falsely states that the argument in the essay I authored claims, “that the Prime Minister and his government have violated the Separation of Church and State by reinstating Article VI…”, which is a disingenuous claim in a public discourse. 

On the contrary, my essay deals with (a) the authority of the Minister of Police who can relax the Sabbath Law, but he bowed to pressure from Church Leaders; (b) and the disadvantages of such government decree to poor people. Mr Penitani conveniently avoided the poor people issue as if it does not exist. …

He further sugar-coded Tongan Christian history as corruption-free unlike European Christian churches. He totally neglected to address the examples of King George Tupou I, and his Prime Minister Shirley Baker persecuting, jailing, and deporting Wesleyan Church members who refused to convert to their new Free Church of Tonga. In essence he dishonestly re-wrote Tongan history to exclude such facts as the Wesleyan Church funding their Australian headquarters at the expense of the Tongan Mission − to which King George Tupou I and Shirley Baker saw as a form of Church corruption.

Shall we also mention that Mormon missionaries from America were prohibited by law from coming to Tonga in the early 1920s? Again, it was the government being pressured by other Church leaders to legalize banning Mormon missionaries. Had it not for MPs Sosaia Mataele of Fo’ui, and Fisi’ihoi (Molitoni Finau) of Nukunuku, lobbying for the repeal of the “anti-Mormon” law, the Mormon Church would have been removed from Tonga forever. Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, had ordered the closure of the LDS Tongan Mission − for the second time − but the Canadian Mission President at the time pleaded to give it a last-ditch effort, which was carried by a single vote (Supreme Court judge) in the Privy Council for repealing the law.   

There’s enough historical evidence to show that the joint Church religious influence and Government political authority corrupts. Obviously, history denials and those who wish to re-write history  are “doomed to repeat it.” They want to take us back 400 years before the “Reformation” (Mr Penitani denies it ever took place) when poor people served the Church and the State simultaneously. That is the backward direction Tonga is heading. 

Sione Mokofisi.