United Methodist Church of Liberia (Monrovia)

8 January 2008

Liberia: Monrovia District Conference Condemns Information Minister's Statements Against the Christian Church

press release

The Monrovia District Conference of the Liberia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has reacted sharply to recent statements made by Liberia's Information Minister, Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, in which he said, "Our National Legislature needs to revisit the exclusivity of national holidays granted to the Christian religion, and think of a more equitable religious arrangement."

In a statement of condemnation read over The United Methodist Radio, ELUM 98.7 FM, on Friday, January 4, 2008, the District Superintendent of the Monrovia District Conference, Rev. Jerry P. Kulah said, "we hold to the fact that Dr. Bropleh, like any other citizen of this nation, has right to his freedom of speech, but has no right to use his freedom to make unguided utterances which have the propensity to fuel religious tension, competition and hence, crisis in the country.

Rev. Kulah said, Dr. Bropleh, who had on December 29, 2007 served as guest speaker to the 7th Jalsa Salana Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jammat of Liberia, "did a good job at discussing peace and religious tolerance, but also did a disservice to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jammat, an Islamic group that operates almost in isolation of the majority groups of Muslims in Liberia, that are made up mainly of Sunnis and Shiites.

The Monrovia District Superintendent said, "Had Rev. Dr. Bropleh concentrated his speech on how peace and tolerance could be fostered amongst these Muslim groups, he would have been of much help to the one which had invited him.   Shockingly, at the close of his speech, Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh elected to make claims and allegations against the Christian Church of Liberia which he Dr. Bropleh cannot defend of prove.  We believe his allegations are highly contemptuous to the integrity of the Church in this nation, and must therefore retract them."

In Rev. Dr. Bropleh's speech he claimed, "You can't legislate Christianity," and according to the Monrovia District's condemnation, it is being understood that "Dr. Bropleh is accusing the Government of Liberia of legalizing Christianity as a State religion and thereby indirectly creating tension and breeding conflict between other religious groups in Liberia and the Church."

The Monrovia District's statement noted that "one can easily interpret Dr. Bropleh's statement is suggesting that Christianity is favored by the Government to the disadvantage of all other religious groups within Liberia."

In a further condemnation of Dr. Bropleh's statement, "You can't legislate Christianity" Rev. Jerry P. Kulah said, such a statement is nothing new to the Christian faith.  Christianity as a religion has never been forced upon anyone in any society under heaven.  He said that fact is, "no one does God a favor by becoming a Christian.  Christianity is a divine relationship with God through Jesus Christ which one enters into by grace through faith in Christ, not by a national legislation."

The Chief spokesman of the Government of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, in his speech to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Convention said, "Taking a retrospective look at the merits and demerits of shutting down our national economy and all other activities, and mandating us to go to Church and pray on "particular holiday", one may wonder whether that has drawn us any closer to our God or benefit the Christian Community."

In a reaction by the Monrovia District, its Superintendent, Rev. Jerry P. Kulah said, "this statement is a gross attack on the Church.  There has never been a time in this nation where Government has "mandated" everyone, with no respect to their religious affiliation, to go to Church on "particular Christian holidays to pray."

Rev. Kulah said "Dr. Bropleh's statement suggests that the celebration of any Christian holiday has no socio-spiritual significance or positive impact upon the Christian Community.  He said this statement is considered "contemptuous to the tireless effort of the Church to bring hope and healing, from a holistic perspective, to the war-ravished people of Liberia."

The Monrovia District's statement concluded, "We want to encourage Dr. Bropleh to use his office as Minister of Information of the Republic of Liberia to promote religious peace and tranquility and not make utterances that could derail the peace process which the Government and people of Liberia, with the blessings of God, and the help of the International Community, have worked so hard to achieve.  If he persists in the making of such utterances that bring the Christian Church into disrepute, and that have the propensity to fuel crisis in Liberia, we, as leaders of the Monrovia District Conference of The United Methodist Church will be obliged to take disciplinary actions against him.

It can be recalled that on December 29, 2007, the Minister of Information of the Republic of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, speaking as guest at the 7th Jalsa Salana Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jammat of Liberia, recommended to the Executive Branch of Government to consider the establishment of a religious advisory board that would be inclusive and representative of all the major religions in Liberia.

Rev. Dr. Bropleh "even dare to recommend that legislation be enacted that will set a day aside at the height of the Muslim Hajj as a national holiday."

This is not the first time that Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, a United Methodist prelate of the Maryland/Washington Annual Conference in the United States of America, made such unguided, immature,  and irresponsible statements against the Christian Church of Liberia, in his capacity as the "mouth piece" of the Government of Liberia.

It can be recalled that while speaking during the course of 2007 at a program under the auspices of the Liberia Council of Churches, on the issue of "Good Governance," Rev. Dr. Bropleh condemned the Christian Church and charged it as being a corrupt institution that should seek to weed out corrupt members before the Church can speak out against the ills of the Government.

In a related development, Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, a United Methodist Pastor of the Maryland/Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church in the United States of America, currently serving as Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Liberia in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Unity Party Government, says, "Not even the Bishop of the Liberia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. John G. Innis, can revoke his (Dr. Bropleh's) pastoral license."

Speaking during his regular press briefing on Thursday, January 3, 2007, and in an apparent reaction to calls by a Bishop and some members of various Christian Churches in and around Liberia that his (Rev. Dr. Bropleh's) pastoral license be revoked by The United Methodist Church in Liberia, Rev. Dr. Bropleh challenged the authority of Bishop Innis to revoke his license as is being recommended.

Rev. Dr. Bropleh however failed to inform the public that although he is a United Methodist Pastor, he is not a member of the Liberia Annual Conference, and therefore does not fall directly under the Episcopal supervision of the Bishop of the Liberia Area of The United Methodist Church.

His recent utterances against the Christian Church have cast a doubt as to his true call to ministry, especially within The United Methodist Denomination.

Dr. Bropleh had on the morning of January 3, 2007, in a meeting with the District Superintendent and some officials of the Monrovia District Conference as well as the Dean of the Bishop's Cabinet, Rev. Nelly Wright, and the Lay-Leader of the Liberia Annual Conference, Bro. Rudolph Merab, promised to retract his statements made at the Ahmadiyya Muslims' Convention after doing his research, but failed to do so, and later declared that he stood by his pronouncements.

The utterances by Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh are unfortunately being considered the official views of the Government of the Republic of Liberia relative to the Christian/Muslim situation in the country, as well as the official views expressed by The United Methodist Church in Liberia.

It is against this background that the Monrovia District Conference of The United Methodist Church seeks to exonerate the Church from all statements and utterances of Rev. Dr. Laurence K. Bropleh, Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism, Republic of Liberia, and calls upon him to be more responsible in his utterances as an official of Government and a Minister who aught to be proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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