on the present Government's criticism of the
Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA)
The attacks on the Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) by the Prime Minister and other members of the government are entirely uncalled for.
The Christian Gospel is holistic - it speaks to all of humanity. It speaks to people's personal and social lives. It speaks to social and political structures. It puts forward the conversion of not just individual souls but of the entirety to human life, including governments and economic structures.
While the present government can be proud of the Townsville Peace Agreement, it has been very slow to implement it. Some of the government's recent actions, such as the shelling of the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal, have risked the renewal of ethnic conflict.
The government's involvement in corrupt economic practices - shady tax remissions, bogus recruitment of staff, selling off of valuable government assets, questionable property deals, corrupt tendering - is well known.
Similarly, favouritism in providing funds for lost and damaged properties and various compensations will be quite clear if the government provides a complete public list of all its payouts.
A small country like the Solomon Islands does not need an army or defense force nor can it afford one. It needs a professional police force of integrity, not subject to political pressure. It does not have that.
For the Prime Minister to call SICA "immoral" or "unchristian" is bizarre. The church has every right to point out the government's dependence on criminal and violent elements that are sucking the country's finances and other resources dry.
Given that the present government was brought in by a coup, it is only just and fair that there be national elections as soon as possible.
Finally, overseas governments are responsible to their own citizens about how they use their tax dollars for foreign aid. Overseas countries are already providing millions of dollars in assistance to the Solomons for health, education, humanitarian assistance, peacemaking and peacekeeping. To ask those countries to put money into the Solomon Islands general budget at this time, given the great potential for misuse, is unreasonable.
In the tradition of the Old Testament prophets, in the tradition of Jesus Christ's denunciation of injustice, in the tradition of the early Church Fathers, Roman Catholic social teaching and the Protestant Reformers, Christians, including SICA, are required to judge the government. That SICA's criticism has been supported by a cross-section of society, both urban and rural, suggests that this government is wrong in trying to amend the constitution to extend its life.
If the electoral laws are the problem, make the small modification in the electoral laws to provide more time to register voters.
Christianity that speaks only to the "spiritual" world and not to the material world of government and politics is a false and heretical Christianity.
SICA is to be commended, not criticized.
The Most Revd Sir Ellison Pogo, Archbishop of Melanesia and Bishop of Central Melanesia
The Rt Revd James Mason, Bishop of Hanuato'o and Senior Bishop, COM
The Rt Revd Dr Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita
The Rt Revd Charles Koete, Bishop of Central Solomons
The Rt Revd Zephaniah Legumana, Bishop of Ysabel
The Rt Revd Hugh Blessing Boe, Bishop of Vanuatu
The Rt Revd David Vunagi, Bishop of Temotu