Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Oct. 16, 2008) - The leaders of Christian churches must make an immediate and unequivocal call on their members to desist from the temple burning which continue to plague our nation.

The wanton and callous destruction of the Kendrit Shiri Sanatan Dharam Shiv Temple at Narewa, Nadi is a clear indication of the unfortunate lack of understanding people have about places of worship.

Early settlers built this temple 97 years ago from money for which they sweated and bled in the cane fields.

The structure stood as a testament to their belief that all mankind is ultimately accountable to a benevolent creator.

It also stood as a proud reminder of the hard work and sacrifices this community made in the cane fields in order to make an honest living in the country they had come to call home.

The thugs who razed this temple on Wednesday night are unlikely to have paid any attention to these sacrifices before torching what was a landmark not only for Narewa but the Hindu community of Nadi.

It is this blatant disregard for others which we must all attempt to end if the country is to move forward.

This newspaper has consistently called for respect for all religions and cultures in this rich and diverse land.

We are too small a community to dwell on the differences which exist. Instead we must embrace the similarities which exist in our religions and cultures as we struggle to cast off the shackles of the past. But this is only possible if the traditional and religious leaders in all communities take the first step and ensure that young people respect the right of others to worship.

Respect, it must be stated, does not mean acquiescence or conversion to another religion or way of life. Instead it shows that at least for Christians they are willing to live by Christ’s call to love their neighbors. Indeed, respect is a cornerstone of the Christian religion and the indigenous Fijian way of life.

Unfortunately, as long as the leaders of this community rail against other religions, the younger members of society will continue to abuse places of worship.

The time has come for Christian leaders to decide whether they want to live the gospel of Christ of pay lip service to the religion they claim to follow.

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