Baha'i Faith PNG

Official Submission to the Constitutional Law Reform Commission: In response to the Public Inquiry of Declaring Papua New Guinea a Christian Country

This Official Response has been submitted to the Constitutional Law Reform Commission (CLRC) on 11th May 2021 for their consideration during the Public Inquiry and Nationwide Consultation process (23rd April-24 March 2021).

The receipt of our community’s submission was acknowledged by the CLRC Secretary’s office on 13th May 2021.

For any queries relating to this submission, kindly contact:

Papua New Guinea Bahá’í Office of External Affairs
ph. +675 7103 4101 | email.

website. | social. @PNGBahai or PNGBahaiCommunity


The Bahá’í Community of Papua New Guinea welcomes this opportunity to contribute to the Inquiry into Declaring Papua New Guinea a Christian Country.

We acknowledge the Government’s overarching intention to foster and strengthen unity in Papua New Guinea. In addition, we recognise and appreciate the crucial role of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission in upholding a just and inclusive process of consultation.


The following document highlights the PNG Bahá’í Community’s key perspectives with regards to the Government’s desire to officially declare our country a Christian Nation by amending the Constitution. We welcome the opportunity to provide this formal submission as requested in the Public Inquiry Notice administered by the Constitutional Law Reform Commission and launched on the 23rd April 2021 for a period until 24th May 2021.

In the interest of practicality, this paper outlines at the outset “Noteworthy concerns for consideration of the Commission”, which identifies key issues our community wishes to express for the attention of the inquiry.

Notably though, given the importance of this process, in addition to some background about the Bahá’í Community of Papua New Guinea, this submission continues on to explore some aspects of a conceptual framework that lend themselves to a deeper discourse. These perspectives may assist with broadening the considerations of the Commission as well as the Government. We would be happy to participate in further consultations to explore these themes in more depth alongside other interested stakeholders, should a request arise.

In July 2018, our community delivered a formal response to the Department of Education concerning the intentions to roll out the compulsory Christian and Citizenship Values Education (CCVE) Curriculum across national schools countrywide. It was highlighted at that time by the Government’s representatives that the PNG Bahá’í Community’s response was valued as the only voice which brought to light valid issues independent of the Christian community. In that submission and presentation we expressed our commendation for the intentions of the Government to embark on moral education for our children and youth – a most important endeavour for our country’s evolving capacity and development. Concurrently we raised specific concerns and highlighted potential and inadvertent issues concerning Section 45 and 55 of our Constitution that would expose risks not only to the Department of Education should these points be overlooked, but to vulnerable members of our entire population: students, families and teachers alike who would become subject to religious discrimination. The submission also made concrete suggestions to frame and structure the curriculum in a manner that would be universally meaningful to all our people including those who may be deemed part of the minority of our population.

It is with the same sincere and amicable intentions of sharing with the Government and its agencies aspects of a conceptual framework that are inclusive in nature and grounded in insights derived from our community’s evolving experience and learning as well as the relevant Bahá’í teachings that this submission is prepared. Indeed, our aim as sincere well-wishers of our Government is to explore these issues in a manner that seeks harmonious outcomes for our country as a whole.

It is with this backdrop we make this submission on behalf of our community of an est. 60,000 people across the country, but also to lend a voice to those whose personal choices of conscience and belief may not be readily heard and therefore understood in the corridors of policy and legislative development.

Noteworthy Concerns for the Consideration of the Commission

With respect to declaring Papua New Guinea a Christian country and legislating this accordingly within the Constitution, this is fundamentally a matter for the Government’s careful consideration for the social welfare and safeguarding of all our people, communities and institutions under its care.

Notably, cautious weighing between intended outcomes and realistic implications is paramount. Although some countries in the world have a state religion or church, significant differences exist among them in relation to the freedoms they grant to the members of minority religions. While a number of these countries count among the most pluralistic and tolerant, some restrict the right of citizens to practice any religion of their choice. 

In this light, the fundamental concerns from our community and the voices we represent, are not so much that Christianity may be enshrined in the constitution as our country’s state religion but rather

(i) freedom of conscience and religion can continue to be provided equally to all citizens and residents, and 

(ii) whether mechanisms exist for the protection of the rights of religious minorities.

As we are all aware, the current conditions of our country are such that the most vulnerable in our communities, particularly the +86% located in rural settings are at risk of incredible injustices by nature of their remoteness and many travesties even if inadvertently related to the amendment, would largely remain in the shadows.  

These concerns appear further warranted considering the disposition and implications of the Constitutional Directive Reference based on the National Executive Council (NEC) decision No. 234 of 2020:

“The preamble of the constitution must make God become prominent to reflect the thinking of the people as to the kind of country that we want to have and to also ensure that those who want to be part of our society must acknowledge God and adopt our Christian values.”

Moreover, the fourth (4th) question on the public inquiry survey is as follows:


Although we commend the verbal public expressions by the Government that other religions will be able to practice freely in our society; the manner in which these two official public communications are framed have drawn genuine anxiety from members within our community across rural and urban settings. It is very difficult to reconcile the verbal assurances with these official written statements – and the real life implications they engender. Regardless of intentions, it is clear how our community’s fundamental concerns described in (i) and (ii) above are of significant national interest.

Another poignant issue is that of the requirement to appoint a State Church to achieve a formal declaration, as indicated by the National Research Institute (NRI) in June 2020.  In light of the overarching intentions driving these Constitutional amendments, which is being framed publicly as a way of ‘strengthening unity’, it would be of critical national interest to outline and explore how this selection or establishment of a State Church would be achieved whilst preserving unity in our peace-loving society.  Particularly as there are a multitude of Church denominations in-country.   

As has been the case in some parts of the world, religion, which in essence is a force for love and unity, has unfortunately been used to divide, to pit a people against another, to promote and justify the ostracizing of segments of society, and to stoke the fires of unbridled nationalism. Many times, religious fervour has been subverted for the sake of political power, whether to attain it or to retain it. These conditions represent but the perversion of religion, since to a true believer in God, the purpose of religion is love and friendship, tolerance and compassion—a true believer affirms and defends the honour and dignity of every fellow human being. 

It is vital therefore that all of our people, including the few vested with the burden and responsibility of authority, remain ever mindful of this matter lest we find ourselves inadvertently giving room in our peaceful and beloved nation to social forces that are destabilizing many societies in the world today.

“…any agency whatever, though it be the instrument of mankind’s greatest good, is capable of misuse. Its proper use or abuse depends on the varying degrees of enlightenment, capacity, faith, honesty, devotion, and high-mindedness of the leaders of public opinion.” 

Bahá’í Writings

A Glimpse:  The Bahá’í Community of Papua New Guinea

On the premise of a transparent, just and inclusive process, we offer a glimpse of our community endeavours and our Faith in order for the Constitutional Law Reform Commission, the Government and relevant stakeholders to have some informed understanding of who we are and what we do as a viable stakeholder and member of our society.

The Bahá’í Community has been present in Papua New Guinea since the early 1950s and has an estimated community of 60,000 right across the country. The vast majority of our community are a widespread diversity of indigenous people from the regions of Southern, Western, Northern, Momase, Highlands, and the New Guinea Islands. Indeed, our community may be one of, if not the largest representation of a religious minority in-country.

The Bahá’í Faith is an independent world religion, the most recent in the Abrahamic line of religions, with more than 5 million members across the world residing in virtually every country. The fundamental principles of the Bahá’í Faith, as expounded by the Prophet-Founder, Bahá’u’lláh, include:

  • Oneness of Humanity 
  • Oneness of God 
  • Oneness of Religion 
  • Freedom from all forms of prejudice 
  • The Inherent nobility of the human being 
  • Progressive revelation of religious truth
  • Development of spiritual moral qualities 
  • Integration of worship and service for humanity
  • The fundamental equality of men and women
  • Harmony between religion and science
  • Central necessity of justice to all human endeavours 
  • Universal education

Bahá’ís believe in a twofold moral purpose, to develop one’s inherent potential both intellectually and spiritually, and to contribute to the advancement and transformation of society. In this light, the Bahá’ís in PNG, and all around the world for that matter, strive to engage in the life of society and to contribute to building vibrant communities wherever they reside.  

It is an inherent characteristic of the Bahá’í pattern of life to offer volunteer services for the betterment of their local communities, and thus, these following insights are offered as a glimpse of our humble efforts in contributing to nation building in PNG.

Between January-March 2021, our national statistics indicate:

  • Of the 1006 childrens’ classes run voluntarily by Bahá’ís across the country, 60% of the near 8000 children participating formally consider themselves to be from a different faith or belief. These classes, supported by volunteer teachers trained in its components are based on an internationally recognised education program run in various settings including villages, homes, settlements, rural and urban – spanning across informal and formal environments.
  • For young people aged between 11-15 years, Bahá’ís voluntarily run the ‘Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program’, of which approximately 50% of attendees across 3623 sessions delivered during the reporting period were again, young people who aren’t formally subscribed to the Bahá’í Faith.
  • Approximately 35% of 2343 participants in the ‘Ruhi Institute Training Program’ within the reporting period are individuals who are not formally subscribed to the Bahá’í Faith. The globally rendered program is voluntarily delivered by community trained facilitators. It is a course for life-long learning and capacity building that increases in complexity with each component/theme – whilst interweaving the twofold moral purpose of Service and Worship inspired directly by the Bahá’í teachings.
  • Further, as part of a pattern of community life that contributes to a sense of common unity, Bahá’ís during the same period rendered almost 5800 informal and formal prayer gatherings with friends, neighbours and communities and 37% of the nearly 17,800 participants during the period come from beliefs other than the Bahá’í Faith
  • Other areas of endeavour for our community encompass the social and economic development initiatives that are sustained across the country under the Rays of Light Foundation. These include 43 community schools catering to primary and elementary level as well as social action programs that cover education, health, forestry, rural banking and agriculture, of which a total of 26 groups are managed across 11 different locations. 

These insights are a simple indication of the PNG Bahá’í Community’s most recent efforts in striving to build an inclusive service-oriented culture starting from the individual – impacting at the family, village and provincial levels. These insights provide a glimpse to a pattern of life that is intricately centred around universal participation – irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, race, class, social status and even religious belief.  In doing so, with a sincere posture, our community is able to iterate and learn more about how to work towards a common vision of unity – not simply as an aspiration to be hoped for, but with practical and constantly-evolving steps that are determined through action, reflection, consultation and study whilst also acknowledging diversity as a fundamental characteristic of our social reality.

The Bahá’í Community has been present in Papua New Guinea since the early 1950s and has an estimated community of 60,000 right across the country. The vast majority of our community are a widespread diversity of indigenous people from the regions of Southern, Western, Northern, Momase, Highlands, and the New Guinea Islands.

One People:  A Vision for Unity in Diversity

From the outset, we uphold and affirm our oneness as a people and we acknowledge that a vital component of our collective identity is our diversity. Indeed, our country is a paradigm of diverse peoples, myriads of cultures and languages accompanied by respective beliefs, intricately woven together to form a complete whole. We are intimately interconnected; we are one people.

To appreciate our oneness, our unity in diversity, requires us to also understand the vision of the framework with which our nation was formally established. A framework that has elevated us above dichotomies of ethnicity, beliefs and cultures. A framework based on respect, equality and tolerance that has allowed us, as a collective people to come together and coexist peacefully. This framework is reflected in the conviction held by our founding fathers about the importance of our diversity:

Foreigners often say, “but there are so many differences. What are the Papua New Guinean ways?” We recognize the legitimacy of this question. However, it betrays a lack of appreciation of what a Papua New Guinean person is. Our ways emphasize egalitarianism and commitment to the community. They recognize the individual as a member of the community. We place great stress on our obligations to our extended families. We share our wealth. We view life in an undivided total picture. These ways of thinking and acting should be encouraged even in the face of the great emphasis of Western thinking on artificial differentiation between things spiritual or sacred and things physical or profane.

This conviction was held in high regard by our founding fathers, Late Great Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sir John Kaputin, Sir Bernard Narokobi, Sir John Guise, Sir Imbakey Okuk, Sir Julius Chan, Sir Ebia Olewale, Sir Maori Kiki, Sir John Momis, Sir Paul Lapun, Sir Tei Abal, Sir Mathais Toliman and Sir Pita Simogun to name a few.

As such, it is important to recall that the framework of our Constitution is inextricably woven with a high sense of inclusivity, not exclusivity, in order that it may safeguard our unity in diversity.

The Role of Religion in Nation Building and Safeguarding its Profound Influence with Science

For our incredibly diverse peoples, there is no doubt that for a large majority, faith is indeed an integral part of life. It has, as acknowledged with immense wisdom and foresight in our National Goals and Directive Principles, been the case for thousands of years and connects our people to systems of traditional knowledge, practice and culture that have long been part of our customs and a bedrock for our strong sense of individual and collective identity.  

As our country continues to develop on so many fronts and as education and training continues to draw out our people’s inestimable and valuable capacity to contribute productively to villages and communities at home and abroad, it is important to explore the role of religion in nation building.  Particularly, to do this in concert with our country’s unfolding progress, which is inherently dynamic, boundless in nature and therefore most notably ever-advancing.  

The Bahá’í Teachings assert, “Religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein.”

Further, the Bahá’í Writings also set an uncompromising standard: “Religion must be conducive to love and unity. If it proves to be the source of hatred and enmity, its absence is preferable; for the will and law of God is love, and love is the bond between human hearts. Religion is the light of the world. If it is made the cause of darkness through human misunderstanding and ignorance, it would be better to do without it.”

Indeed, the test of religion is its fruits.  In its truest form, religion provides the moral foundations to harmonise relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions across diverse and complex social settings.

An example of the role of religion, when expressed in its truest form providing the foundation to harmonise relationships among national level institutions across diverse and complex social settings. Click to read more.

In our country’s social reality, as it has been for all societies and many of the world’s peoples, religion exerts a profound influence. We all observe the clear evidence of how the role of religion has impelled the delivery of essential services in health, education and community building across our unforgiving geography. Particularly, where public resources have been insufficient, it is through the noble and selfless sacrifices of individuals and organisations underpinned by the powerful influence of religion that these critical endeavours for the betterment of our society are carried out.  

Those universal spiritual principles which lie at the heart of religion – tolerance, compassion, love, justice, humility, sacrifice, trustworthiness, dedication to the well-being of others, and unity – are the foundations of progressive civilization. 

Therefore, in light of this proposed Constitutional amendment, where the notion of “Christian Values” are regularly cited in the public domain as an overarching theme, it would be conducive to clearly and explicitly, identify and define for every citizen to understand what “Christian Values” means to those driving this national conversation, what these values look like and how they may be captured in an amendment of the Constitution. Furthermore, an exploration of whether these definitions are widely shared by our fellow citizens would be of great value to the process and resolution.

At the national mourning period of the Grand Chief Sir Michael T. Somare, multitudes reminisced about the universal principles such as Peace, Unity In Diversity, Justice and Equality upon which the vision of our country’s long-term prosperity was founded. Indeed, upon reviewing the National Goals and Directive Principles we see that our founding forefathers, after conducting a robust consultation process, deliberated with great care the identification of universal values and principles that would be meaningful to all citizens and residents. A foundation of principles that, even as we approach our fifth (5th) decade of independence, are still coherent with many, if not all of our peoples’ aspirations for prosperity – indeed, they remain ever-relevant and a source of inspiration. Thus, are these principles akin to the definition of “Christian Values” envisaged by the current Constitutional amendment inquiry? If not, how does the Government intend to delineate clearly what “Christian Values” are? Fundamentally, any vagueness around this definition may inadvertently foster religious discrimination at all levels of society.

At this juncture we must also acknowledge that the perversion of religion has also been a primary cause of social disintegration, intolerance, hatred, sexism, poverty, oppression and warfare down through the ages. Indeed, many of today’s seemingly intractable problems both at home and abroad can be traced to the corruption and misuse of religious authority.  

It is, thus, obvious, that if religion is to help meet the manifold challenges confronting our country and the diverse communities that weave together to form the greater whole, it must be free of ignorance, prejudice and animosity.

Foregoing any tendency to promote a purely personal or limited-group salvation, religion must emphasize that the individual’s spiritual fulfillment and well-being are interconnected with the collective progress of our country and the global community.

Through service and an active commitment to justice and unity, the role of religion in nation building can bring an enormous, positive force to bear on the issues of social development.

So, how may we reconcile and safeguard this profound role that religion has and will continue to play in our constantly-evolving society with contradicting maladies that are rendered unscrupulously under the banner of religion?  To address this issue, the Bahá’í writings affirm that

“Religion must conform to science and reason; otherwise, it is superstition. God has created man in order that he may perceive the verity of existence and endowed him with mind or reason to discover truth. Therefore, scientific knowledge and religious belief must be conformable to the analysis of this divine faculty in man.”

True religion acknowledges that truth is one, which is why it must be in harmony with science. When understood as complementary, science and religion provide people with powerful means to gain new and wondrous insights into reality and to shape the world around them, and each system benefits from an appropriate degree of influence from the other. Science, when devoid of the perspective of religion, can become vulnerable to dogmatic materialism. Religion when devoid of science falls prey to superstition and blind imitation of the past. The Bahá’í teachings implore us to

“Put all your beliefs into harmony with science; there can be no opposition, for truth is one. When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles—and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God.”

The Right to Freedom of Conscience, Belief & Religion

As previously noted, our community members are sincerely concerned about the disposition and ramifications of the Constitutional Directive Reference based on the NEC decision No. 234 of 2020:

“The preamble of the constitution must make God become prominent to reflect the thinking of the people as to the kind of country that we want to have and to also ensure that those who want to be part of our society must acknowledge God and adopt our Christian values.”

As a religious community that fundamentally believes in God, we recognize the intention to acknowledge God as the divine source of all creation. Indeed, our community believes in the Oneness of God and therefore it is our perspective that we believe in the same God and values as our brothers and sisters in the Chrisitan community. However we also highlight the inherent exclusivity of the above extract and the kind of interpretations it, and other public communications, can and have engendered at the grassroots level. 

Furthermore, we are cognizant of members of our collective society who may not even subscribe to any particular faith or beliefs that are explicitly Christian. As such we believe that the public communication ostracizes those members of our society who: (i) do not subscribe to any particular faith or belief; and (ii) those who subscribe to other religious faith or beliefs. Consequently, these sorts of statements contradict the National Goals & Directive Principle (2) – Equality and Participation, which states that we declare our second goal to be for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the development of our country. 

The right to freedom of conscience, belief and religion is a fundamental universal human right and should at all times be honoured, to uphold the dignity of all human beings. 

Human beings must be free to know, to believe and to discern the truth for oneself. Apprehending who we are, for what purpose we exist, and how we should live our lives, is a basic impulse of human consciousness. This quest for self-understanding and meaning is the essence of life itself. The innate and fundamental aspiration to investigate reality is thus a right and an obligation of every human being. It is for this reason that the Bahá’í­ teachings affirm that the “conscience of man is sacred and to be respected.”To search for truth – to see with one’s “own eyes and not through the eyes of others” is to undertake a process of spiritual discovery with a keen sense of justice and openness.  It is by its very nature a process that is creative and transformative; if pursued with sincerity and fairness, it can bestow upon the seeker of knowledge “a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind.” The rational soul is thereby awakened to the capacities of kindness, forbearance, and compassion that lie within it. Clearly, the human yearning for truth is a power that cannot be shackled, for without the freedom to know, human nature remains the prisoner of instinct, ignorance and desire.

Moreover coercion in matters of faith vitiates the very principles of religion.  For commitment can only be born of belief that is freely chosen. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief now codified in international human rights instruments directly finds its roots in the scriptures of the world’s religions. This fact should assure each of us that truth need not be feared, as it has many facets and shelters all of our diverse expressions of faith. If, after all, people of religious faith believe that the Creator is eternal and the center of all existence, then they must also believe that the unfettered and genuine search for truth will lead to truth.

In ensuring that we safeguard one’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief, the proposed amendments must therefore consider these essential questions:

  • What do the proposed amendments mean for our people who subscribe to another faith, do not subscribe to any faith, or simply maintain traditional/cultural beliefs?
  • What implications will this have on their basic human rights?
  • How have these implications been qualified?  
  • To what degree have these implications been confirmed by those who are most vulnerable to the risk(s) of discrimination?
  • What mechanisms are in place to safeguard their human rights?

Protecting Minority Rights: Safeguarding The Path to Collective Prosperity

We are a country of minorities. Our intense diversity is inextricably part of who we are as a whole nation:

Papua New Guinea…home to…more than 800 different languages spoken among a population divided into more than 10,000 ethnic clans across 600 islands.

With a social tapestry as rich and heterogenous as ours, each individual in our country deeply understands the anxieties and injustices that come with being considered an ‘outsider’. It is perhaps, in part why so many of us continue to find comfort in identifying so strongly with our ethnic clans and/or religious affiliations. But as we’re steadily discovering, this habit will over time, continue to give way to a broader definition of belonging as our society naturally progresses and our personal and family ties envelope greater diversity. This was a reality seemingly understood by our founding forefathers and as such, critical to how our Constitution was constructed. Consequently, our collective social prosperity, whether we realise this consciously or not, is underpinned by the blanket of human rights and minority protections afforded to each of us as enshrined in our Constitution.

“…the advantage of the part is best to be reached by the advantage of the whole, and that no abiding benefit can be conferred upon the component parts if the general interests of the entity itself are ignored or neglected.”

As is widely highlighted by legal, academic and professional experts, our unique and ‘Home-Grown Constitution’ is an exceptional culmination of universal principles and legislation – particularly that it directly enshrines the critical protections of human rights afforded to each and every citizen and resident – the majority and minority alike regardless of how those imaginary boundaries may be defined. Indeed, our Constitution mandates that laws in PNG are to be

‘reasonably justifiable in a democratic society having a proper respect for the rights and dignity of mankind’.

The overarching spirit of noble principles articulated throughout the Constitution as well as the National Goals and Directive Principles that inspired and underlie its formulation, are highly aligned with the views and sentiments of the Bahá’í community.

Moreover, when these principles are discerned through the lense of an essential Bahá’í tenet such as the ‘Oneness of Humankind’ and the interdependence of all peoples, then the notion to uphold and respect fundamental human rights, including persons belonging to minorities is an intrinsically accepted ideal that imbues social behaviour and decisions conducive to a progressive and harmonious society.

In our short history so far as an independent nation, we can observe how our modern communities are advancing in complexity as evidenced by the organic broadening of our own definitions of individual and collective identity.  The increasing sophistication of our modern PNG culture is propelled by such forces as the integration of tribal heritage via inter-clan unions and marriages, the steadily increasing accessibility to travel and cross-cultural exposure, the advancement and influence of technology and communications, as well as the evolving quality of education and training. At the institutional and national level, we need not fear the change these influences engender, nor seek to attach ourselves to a pious hope of returning to the past. We must use our ingenuity, guided by a moral compass that is universally meaningful to explore a conceptual framework for policy development and legislation that is relevant for our reality and its evolution over time.  

In our view, it is these immutable contemporary forces that will kindle the widespread realisation that we must consider our well-known diversity with more than mere tokenism and tolerance of its vast implications. Instead, we must actively endeavour to deliberately harness our diversity as an essential feature of a united collective identity worthy of protection and celebration. Indeed the Bahá’í Community believes that this learning process will be integral to reaching the long-desired vision of a prosperous, peaceful society exemplifying Unity In Diversity.

The Bahá’í­ Writings affirm, “when divers shades of thought, temperament and character are brought together… the beauty and glory of human perfection will be revealed and made manifest.”

The Bahá’í experience so far suggests that genuine and heartfelt commitment to upholding the rights of everyone is unlikely if the conception of human rights stops at mere tolerance. Not until we, at the individual and collective levels truly value the diverse groups that constitute the human family and learn attitudes and skills necessary for full cooperation, will a peaceful yet pluralistic society be possible. Indeed, when all members of our community are valued, respected, and encouraged to contribute, the entire community benefits.

Summary & Conclusion

To summarise some of the key concepts from the submission, we hope the Commission will afford acute attention to the following points:

  • Firstly, we commend the Government’s ultimate desire and intention to foster unity in our country. Based on public announcements, we understand this to be a key motivation.  However, we also do recognise that the current initiative to amend the Constitution in the present manner presents issues which, if not addressed or considered carefully, raises the risk of destabilizing our otherwise peaceful nation – as has been evidenced in many other societies.
  • The fundamental concerns where we seek specific confirmation and details from the Commission and Government are:
    • that freedom of conscience and religion can continue to be provided equally to all citizens and residents, and 
    • whether mechanisms exist for the protection of the rights of religious minorities.
  • The fundamental concerns expressed above appear warranted by the manner in which official public (written) communication have already been framed. Additionally, these extracts are difficult to reconcile with verbal assurances of the protection of the freedom of religion and conscience made by Government officials.
    • As mentioned, it is our understanding that the overarching desire for this constitutional change is to foster and strengthen ‘unity’ in our country. However, it is clear that minority representatives such as our community members are genuinely feeling and indeed expressing concerns of religious discrimination, however inadvertent these may be in relation to the amendment announcement. By nature of these sincere concerns arising early in the inquiry, it seems that the Constitutional amendment consultation is already manifesting the opposite desired effect – as it sows seeds that are providing license for division and the ostracising of members within our peaceful society to occur.
  • A need to fully expound the meaning of what “Christian Values” means; what they look like and how it will be incorporated in the Constitutional amendment. 
    • Does the conception of “Christian Values” differ from the universal principles already outlined in the Constitution? If so, clearly articulating these definitions in a way that dispels vagueness from public understanding would be of immense value.
    • Furthermore, endeavouring to understand whether our population in general shares the same definition of “Christian Values” ought to be considered.
  • Careful consideration of the National Research Institute’s advice on the need to appoint a State Church ought to be explored early in this consultation process – as this selection or establishment process will be critical to maintaining unity in our country. Thus, although the issue of a State Church follows a Constitutional change, understanding the Government’s detailed plan in making this selection or establishing this entity would be of critical national interest.
  • Upon request, we would be happy to participate in any further consultations hosted by the Commission or the Government to represent our community.

Finally, we once again thank the Commission for this opportunity to submit a formal response. It is our conviction that our country’s social wellbeing rests on the Government and those vested with the authority and responsibility of leadership to abandon self-interest and act with moral rectitude. To this end, our community holds each person and institution in this process that shoulders this heavy burden in our ardent prayers and thoughts – that the relevant deliberations may find earnest resolve for the betterment of our entire country.

For any queries relating to this submission, kindly contact:

Papua New Guinea Bahá’í Office of External Affairs
ph. +675 7103 4101 | email.

website. | social. @PNGBahai or PNGBahaiCommunity

Office of External Affairs