SSGM Seminar Series

Bainimarama and the Methodist Churches

Christine Weir
     Tuesday, September 2
Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), ANU
3:00-4:00PM
Since 2006 the relationship between the Methodist Church of Fiji and the Bainimarama regime has been variously tense, acrimonious and downright hostile, with Church Conferences cancelled by the government in 2009 -2011 and allowed under restrictions in 2012-13 after the Methodist church was accused of ‘playing politics’. Other attempts to sideline the influence of the Methodist Church have included government encouragement of the New Methodists (Souls to Jesus) movement in 2008-9. However, these government actions have been premised on the assumption that the Methodist Church is monolithic in its support for conservative Fijian chiefly values, often privileging these over more universalist values espoused by other Christian denominations. While this may been generally true of the years 1989 to 2012, it has not always been the case, as shown by the election of IndoFijian Daniel Mastapha as President of the Methodist Church in 1977 and the initial Methodist reaction to the coup of 1987.

This paper suggests that in the last two years dynamics within the Methodist church have changed as the more liberal wing of the church has reasserted itself, a shift which is only partly influenced by Bainimarama’s actions.

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State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program

Australian National University

Canberra, Act 0200

Australia

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