Embracing the different faces of PNG the Barbie way
Painter in Paradise: William Dobell in New Guinea

Too much hypocrisy in this Christian country of ours


PAPUA New Guinea is regarded as a Christian country. Its constitution declares Christianity as a State religion, although our homeland also embraces freedom of religion.

Yet, given the influence of Christianity, Papua New Guineans who affiliate themselves with other religions such as Islam or Hinduism make up just a tiny minority of our people.

Papua New Guinea is also said to be one of the last frontiers of the great crusade to Christianise and subsequently civilise the uncivilised. These efforts have not been easy.

The early missionaries frequently shed blood to establish Christianity in this country. In terms of progress, the role of the churches cannot be ignored. In the absence of a government presence or even support, churches have had to carry the heavy burden of development in Papua New Guinea.

Our public institutions involved in the work of justice and governance, such as the courts and Parliament, are required to have reverence to God in carrying out their mandated duties and responsibilities.

By the same token, we the governed are expected to conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects high moral principles and aspirations. Even miscreants and convicts are required by law to take an oath on a Bible before they give their testimony to the court.

However, as a nation, it is fair to say that we have failed miserably to live up to the high ideals of Christianity. We are not alone, of course. Every nation is at fault in not living up to its Constitution or moral laws.

Yet, in Papua New Guinea, one almost gets the feeling that we deliberately allow this mischievous behavior to flourish even though we feel the pain that it inflicts upon us. Or worse, when it contradicts the Christian values our nation has adopted in its Constitution.

This is where calling ourselves a Christian nation becomes a form of hypocrisy. These days our Christian values and principles are muddled with the tide of ideas promoting a liberal and humanistic lifestyle. Yet, our government does not see the necessity of policing such behaviour to ensure we conform to the Constitution.

Take for instance, the way we celebrate Christmas and Easter. We tend to promote two contradictory messages. At Christmas there are Papua New Guineans who flock to the shopping malls to buy gifts for their loved ones. Kids go into shops hoping to shake Santa’s hands or wish that he would come by in his sleigh to drop off gifts. Papua New Guineans conduct vigils in churches to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

Then there are the young people who indulge themselves in binge drinking accompanied by loud music which is the new way of celebrating Christmas, sadly becoming the norm. Nobody cares about asking whether it is an acceptable practice or not.

At Easter, the same trend is displayed where one group takes part in church activities to acknowledge the significance of Christ death on the cross while the others go looking for bunnies, chocolate eggs and beer. Is this how citizens of a self-professed Christian nation should behave?

Our nation’s hypocrisy was on display when Speaker Theo Zurenuoc replaced parliamentary carvings and totems and installed a 400-year old bible. This was his attempt to institute reforms in parliament. However even this noble idea was met with strong opposition from Papua New Guineans, including certain members of the “body of Christ”.

This was said to be part of the Speaker’s attempt to fight the corruption pervasive in PNG’s echelon of power. Perhaps by replacing these traditional totems with Christian symbols he was trying to reinforce the fact that we are a ‘Christian’ country; that Christianity and not PNG’s diverse cultures and traditions is the underlying commonality that is critical to our unity.

While some argued from a philosophical standpoint about the importance of maintaining some level of independence between the State and church others saw the move as anti-nationalism; a slap in the face for PNG’s culture and traditional values.

Regardless, in a Christian country, such a hostile reception towards an endeavour to promote Christianity is nothing short of an act of hypocrisy.

PNG’s founding Judeo-Christian principles should be the yardstick to help our leaders chart our course towards our destiny.

Our journey as a nation has been one of taking huge strides and great leap of faith. Sometimes we do so at our own expense and other times we find ourselves riding its waves of success. In moving forward we should confess that PNG is a Christian country. Faith without works is not faith at all.

A country is a lion when it leaves behind a lion’s footprints. Let us live up to what we profess to be - a Christian country – otherwise we show hypocrisy of the highest order


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Michael Dom

And in other news...http://www.looppng.com/content/nisira-religious-extremism-timebomb-bougainville

Philip Fitzpatrick

I'm surprised at the acuity and edifying responses to this article. PNG has some great thinkers.

PNG would be better off as a secular society that tolerated a range of diverse religions, including Christianity.

Presenting it as a Christian country brings too much unnecessary and questionable baggage and causes aberrations that don't help anyone.

Michael Dom

Interesting analogy, iron (Religion) and clay (State).

I'm not familiar with Daniel's prophesies but in ancient times clay was used to make the crucibles for melting iron ore.

Perhaps Daniel was saying that the State should provide a proper environment to practice Religion.

Clearly some people are trying to do the opposite, e.g. Jihadist's and Theodist's.

Putting clay into iron molds - why would you do this?

Stanley Amben

I believe Christianity is more functional at a personal level rather than a mob thing. Each 'believer' is liable for their own salvation i.e., justification, sanctification and glorification (John 3:16).

The title Christian nation can be too far fetched, however, can serve as a reminder of our mere humanity and our need of a selfless, loving example of Jesus Christ.

The Jewish Sanhedrin Council rejected Jesus as the Messiah by stoning Stephen in retribution of losing 5000 of their sturdy followers who repented and were baptised by Apostle Peter and John previously (Acts 4:4).

That didn't 'Christianize' the strongest political and religious power at the time, despite their inability to rebut the strong arguments presented by unlearned fisherman (Acts 4). Regardless, we are in the iron and clay (Daniel 2:33) period so expecting Religion (iron) and State (clay) to co-exist is futile.

Michael Dom

Here's food for thought to our Christian brethren: what if Paul's' conversion (Google Pauline Conversion or Damascus Christophany) was not of Christ?

What evidence did Paul provide? Who witnessed this? Are the stories convincing in the light of intensive and reasoned scrutiny?

Apparently, there were two different views from the 'eye witness statements'.

This is unusual in the New Testament where 'in the beginning' the four gospels (strictly three), which were written* entirely separate from each other, from different perspectives and in different languages, basically agree on the same story of Christ's life and message?

A message that transcends religions and for which central tenets can be found in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and various other philosophies. But this knowledge isn’t convenient to most Christians.

(*Well, actually the stories were orally recited and only later put to paper, but that's another think.)

Today's version of Holy Scripture has many stories, and most faithful, appreciative and learned audiences know the value of having more than one story – it is the truest depiction of life's infinite variety, depth and breadth.

Although some books (read scripture) probably got dropped on the way to the first Nicene convention, that rowdy ruling crowd won't take responsibility for the current or past versions of the Holy Bible, neither Constantine's nor King James Version. Copyright probably or avoiding litigious action.

But Paul's conversion tale is quiet interesting.

We are led to believe that the man who stoned Stephen and persecuted many others was stunned by a flash of light in the middle of the desert, picks himself up and all of a sudden asks, "Who are you, Lord?"

Also, later on he may have suffered temporary blindness from being out in the sun for too long.

It seems too convenient to me.

Also, we should recall that the-person-formerly-known-as-Saul was a Pharisee.

Has anyone wondered why a Pharisee with a perfectly proud and historical name like Saul (meaning ‘prayed for’) would change his name to a Roman name, Paul (meaning ‘humble’).

Strategic choices: (1) Romans were the new masters of the universe – so the name fits in with that group.

(2) Saul was the gradually corrupted King of the Israelites before David, who is the ancestor of Jesus. So the name fits with the Hebrew crowd too.

Paul was educated. He knew the Holy Scripture, i.e. the original Judaic stuff. He knew religious rhetoric. And he probably understood Roman legislation – “know the rules so you know how to break them properly” (that’s Lord Buddha by the way).

Paul’s knowledge of religious rhetoric was put to use in the 'burning bush' analogy of his reported conversion. Usually, requiring a harsh uninhabitable environment (desert, fire or salt water), light’s, voices and one or two followers of less intelligence (read soldiers).

Being an educated scribe, an elite, unlike the majority of disciples around at the time (except later maybe Mark who wrote in Greek), it was no wonder he was able to grasp the hearts and minds of other less knowledgeable or worldly disciples.

While Paul was eventually part of the survival of the Christian movement it would beg credibility to say it was dependent on his conversion and presence.

(Or would Christians doubt God's ability to sustain his boy's sweat and blood without Paul?)

And yet his influence is predominant, as any copy of the New Testament will testify.

In fact, Paul soon become the 'mangi-masti', the 'boss-boi' of the disciple establishment, and through some very confrontational disputes, probably only a few of which were recorded in his epistles.

So, was it a clever ruse for Paul to become a part of this early Christian disciple movement, instead of chasing them around half the world?

Was it a case of recognizing that if you can't beat them join them?

Or maybe along the lines of "creating and managing change from within the system"?

(Which is purportedly a reason that many MP's used to get elected to parliament in the first place.)

Any way we look at it Paul's entry into the early discipleship turned the tide of Christianity and paved the way for the establishment of the current institution(s).

Christian institutions are founded in large part upon Paul's teachings.

So, pontificating from parliamentary privilege is of Pauline origin, yet people equate that with being Christian.

Methinks, Christ's disciples would be more likely to be found down at the local markets, talking with the vagrants, street sellers, beggars and prostitutes.

Helping them out instead of brow beating them with the Buk Baibel.

They might even have time for the public servants working in the tax office or to spend a moment or two with the pig keepers, even if Legion did take out some of their previous herd.

Perhaps they’d even share a poem or a song or two, if they had time for these less important things in life, like King David did.

Everyone’s heard of that bloke, he was Jesus Christ’s great, great, great, great, great and greatest grandfather.

Who were the others?

Oh, that’s right, apart from Solomon, most of them never wrote anything down. But then again that was the scribe’s job, and most people didn’t have one of Paul’s kin taking dictation.

The moral of it all: scribbling is a double edged sword.

Michael Dom

I'll admit to having a raw nerve on this agenda, because I thoroughly, and with eternal unyielding disappointment and disgust, hate what Theo Zurenuoc did to my lintel and carving at the Haus Tambaran.

Yes, you fools, actions such as this should be taken personally.

Otherwise, do you really think you love your country and culture? Or is it mere intellectual titillation when you speak of patriotism?

To be frank, Busa's article pontificates (as at mass), brow beating readers into thinking that Christianity is the only religion that has any moral standing.

Hypocrisy is for those who profess one thing, yet behave in another way.

Those who defend their philosophical or cultural views can hardly be called hypocrites for doing so even if this goes against another persons religious opinions.

Christians have a lot of gall telling the rest of PNG to be moral.

When one so called Christian act of putting a chain saw into public property, utterly destroying a historical and precious work of art, is called out as a criminal action, they immediately call upon the name of their Almighty.

Now that is hypocritical.

If you make a mold of lions feet and wear them on your heels, you will also leave lions prints behind you. But you will not be a lion.

Joe Herman

Nice article, Busa. Church should be based on Jesus' teaching that " ..where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." It is relational and is a way of life for Christ followers. But some how we seemed to have institutionalized Christianity in the name of church Jesus talks about.

Michael Dom

In the case of Church versus Christ, i.e. Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus versus Jesus son of Joseph, son of David, a.k.a. Son of God or Son of Man, the early disciples determined in favour of Paul.

So they were hell bent on 'Christianizing' the world from waaaay back in the day.

It was Paul, not Christ who established the Church as an institution.

Christ's church, methinks, was built elsewhere.

Not in our Haus Tambaran.

(But maybe in New Zealand, because that's where the elves live.)

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