SAMOAN CHURCH LEADERS DISAGREE WITH RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN SALAMUMU

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (November 9, 1998 - Samoa News)---Two top leaders of churches in Samoa disagree with actions taken by leaders of the village of Salamumu against a group that were practicing non-Methodist services in the village.

Reports from Apia stated that the group was holding a Bible study when the incident occurred in Salamumu, a village that does not allow its residents to practice any other faith but Methodist.

The leaders of the group were allegedly taken from their home and hog-tied. The home was then burned.

The message came from Samoa's Cardinal Pio Taofinuu of the Catholic Church Samoa-Apia and Rev. Oka Fauoto, Chairman of the Congregational Christian Church (CCC) in Samoa.

Cardinal Pio, in his letter in Samoan, stated that it is public knowledge that under the Samoa constitution, the right of an individual to participate any religious practice of their choosing is protected.

He said if the government does not protect this right of an individual, it will cause more problems similar to the incident that occurred at the village of Salamumu.

I'm saddened with what has occurred," Cardinal Pio pointed out, noting that such examples turn Samoa back to the days before the arrival of religion.

Rev. Fauoto said in his Samoan statement that based on what was reported in the media and stories he has heard, he believes that it is not appropriate to use such punishment anymore.

An official of the Congregation Christian Church in American Samoa (CCCAS) at Kanana Fou told Samoa News last week that because the incident occurred in Samoa and the CCCAS has broken ties with CCC-Samoa, it would be inappropriate for him to make a statement.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com.

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