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Faith Leaders Gather in Pacific Over Freedom of Religion

2012 Hamula Samoa 2012

Photo caption: Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy, left, visits with Samoa Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta'isi Efi at a dinner to launch this week’s ‘Managing Religious and Cultural Diversity in the Pacific’ conference

Elder James J. Hamula joined Samoa’s head of state and leaders of other faiths last week in the first “Managing Religious and Cultural Diversity in the Pacific” conference at the National University of Samoa in Apia.

In remarks directed to fellow conference delegates, Elder Hamula, who is the Pacific Area President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “It is contrary to the interests of all religious faiths to have any one religious faith restrict or limit another religious faith. Further, it is contrary to the doctrines and beliefs of the Christian faiths that prevail in the Pacific to restrict or limit others from believing what they wish.”  

While Church members in Tonga and Samoa represent 45 percent and 30 percent of the respective populations in their countries, in New Zealand and Australia the percentage of Church members is much smaller.

“Not only are we a minority in the total population, Mormons also are a minority in the family of Christian traditions in nearly every country in the region,” said Elder Hamula. “[This] explains, in part, our keen interest in the preservation of religious liberty. Throughout history, minority groups have found themselves the victims of persecution and even banishment from majority groups.”

He further noted that “traditional Christianity acknowledges religious liberty as a fundamental right of all human beings, even those who choose another faith or choose not to believe at all.”

Read the entire story on the Church’s Pacific Area Newsroom website.

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