FR GIORGIO LICINI | Catholic Reporter
PAPUA NEW GUINEA is on the verge of its own dangerous “war of religion” after just a few days ago the country woke up to the unthinkable.
A Parliament House committee had approved the removal and utter destruction of traditional works of art from the building and Speaker Theo Zurenuoc was taking the lead in tearing the artifacts down and literally chopping them into pieces.
The reason: They were “ungodly images and idols”.
The uproar in the press and social media was unprecedented. With the PNG Post-Courier taking the lead in shedding light on the facts, citizens and expatriates in PNG spared no opportunity to denounce the ideological madness which is hurting trust and respect between the different ethnic groups and Christian denominations.
According to press reports some parliamentarians have been convinced that the worship of the only “God of Israel” is at odds with traditional representations of ancestral spirits some of which used to induce fear; much more so, of course, if these are hosted in the National Parliament.
The Catholic Bishops Conference suspects that behind the move is a new and not well known sect of “Christian Zionists” born of a recent trip by government and parliament officials to Israel.
Most Papua New Guineans, however, don’t see things in a such heavily charged religious and psychological manner.
Since it was opened in 1984, the iconic parliament in the shape of a traditional haus tambaran of the Sepik region is seen as one of the few symbols of national unity. More than 800 tribes have lived peacefully together before and after independence from Australia in 1975.
Most bloggers have written that instead of being cleansed of artifacts, the parliament should be cleansed of the widespread corrupt practices and dealings which are seriously hampering the development of the country.