Religion in Samoa

Religion in Samoa encompasses a range of groups, but 98% of the population of Samoa is Christian. The following is a distribution of Christian groups as of 2011 (the most recent census available): Congregational Christian (32 percent), Roman Catholic (19 percent), LDS (15 percent), Methodist (14 percent), Assemblies of God (8 percent) and Seventh-day Adventist (4 percent). Groups together constituting less than 5 percent of the population include Baha'i, Jehovah's Witnesses, Congregational Church of Jesus, Nazarene, nondenominational Protestant, Baptist, Worship Centre, Peace Chapel, Samoa Evangelism, Elim Church, and Anglican. (A comparison of the 2006 and 2011 censuses shows a slight decline in the membership of major denominations and an increase in participation in nontraditional and evangelical groups. Although there is no official estimate, there are reportedly small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews, primarily in Apia. The country has one of the world's eight Bahá'í Houses of Worship. There is a small Muslim community and one mosque.[2][3]

Affiliation 2001 census 2006 census 2011 census 2016 census[1]
Congregational Christian Church in Samoa 35.0% 33.8% 31.8% 29.0%
Roman Catholic 19.7% 19.6% 19.4% 18.8%
Latter-day Saints 12.5% 13.3% 15.1% 16.9%
Methodist 15.0% 14.3% 13.7% 12.4%
Assemblies of God 6.6% 6.9% 8.0% 6.8%
Seventh-day Adventist 3.5% 3.5% 3.9% 4.4%
Others 7.7% 8.6% 8.1% 11.7%

Status of government respect for religious freedom

The outside of Mega Church SAOG Lotopa
Catholic church in Samoa-2
Mulivai Cathedral, Apia (Catholic), Samoa. The earthquake-damaged Cathedral has now been demolished.
Piula Theological College, Upolu island, Samoa, 2009
Historic Methodist Chapel at Piula Theological College on Upolu island

The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. The constitution provides for the right to choose, practice, and change the religion of one’s choice. Legal protections cover discrimination or persecution by private as well as government actors.[3]

The constitution provides freedom from unwanted religious education in schools and gives each religious group the right to establish its own schools. Nevertheless, a 2009 education policy, enforced since 2010, makes Christian instruction compulsory in public primary schools and optional in public secondary schools. The government institutes the policy inconsistently in government schools across the country, with little if any public concern or opposition. Church-run pastoral schools in most villages traditionally provide religious instruction after school hours.[3]

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, White Monday (Children's Day), Feast of the Ascension and Christmas.[3]

The government does not require religious groups to register.[3]

A government-established commission charged with recommending possible constitutional amendments concerning religious freedom completed its collection of public submissions at the end of 2010. By the end of 2012, the government had not publicly released the report or tabled it in parliament.[3]

In June 2017, the Samoan Parliament passed a bill to increase support for Christianity in the country's constitution, including a reference to the Trinity. According to The Diplomat, "What Samoa has done is shift references to Christianity into the body of the constitution, giving the text far more potential to be used in legal processes."[4] The preamble to the constitution already described the country as "an independent State based on Christian principles and Samoan custom and traditions."[3]

Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

As of 2012, there were occasional reports of societal discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. In addition prominent societal leaders repeatedly publicly emphasized that the country was Christian. Public discussion of religious issues often included negative references to non-Christian religions.[3]

Traditionally, villages tended to have one primary Christian church. Village chiefs often chose the religious denomination of their extended families. Many larger villages had multiple churches serving different denominations and coexisting peacefully. However, new religious groups sometimes faced resistance when attempting to establish themselves in some villages.[3]

There remained minor tensions between Fa'a Samoa (the Samoan way) and individual religious rights. One of the elements of Fa'a Samoa was the traditional, tightly-knit village community. Often, village elders and the community at large were not receptive toward those who attempted to introduce another denomination or religion into the community. While under-reported, observers stated that, in many villages throughout the country, leaders forbade individuals to belong to churches outside of the village or to exercise their right not to worship. Villagers in violation of such rules faced fines or banishment from the village.[3]

There was a high level of religious observance and strong societal pressure at village and local levels to participate in church services and other activities, and to support church leaders and projects financially. In some denominations, financial contributions often totaled more than 30 percent of family income. This issue has gained media attention as some members of parliament have spoken out about pressure on families to give disproportionate amounts of their incomes to churches.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Final 2016 Census Brief No 1 Version2
  2. ^ "The World Factbook; U.S. Central Intelligence Agency; last updated 27 March 2014."
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "International Religious Freedom Report 2012: Samoa; United States Department of State, Human Rights and Labor" (Retrieved 19 June 2017). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ Wyeth, Grant (16 June 2017). "Samoa Officially Becomes a Christian State". The Diplomat. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
Bahá'í Faith in American Samoa and Samoa

The Bahá'í Faith in Samoa and American Samoa begins with the then head of the religion, `Abdu'l-Bahá, mentioning the islands in 1916. This inspired Bahá'ís on their way to Australia in 1920 to stop in Samoa. Thirty four years later another Bahá'í from Australia pioneered to Samoa in 1954. With the first converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1961, and the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1970. Following the conversion of the then Head of State of Samoa, King Malietoa Tanumafili II, the first Bahá'í House of Worship of the Pacific Islands was finished in 1984 and the Bahá'í community reached a population of over 3,000 in about the year 2000.

Bahá'í Faith in Papua New Guinea

The Bahaism in Papua New Guinea begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion there. The first Bahá'ís move there (what Bahá'ís mean by "pioneering",) in Papua New Guinea arrived there in 1954. With local converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958. The first National Spiritual Assembly was then elected in 1969. According to the census of 2000 showed that the number of Bahá'ís does not exceed 21000. But the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated three times more Bahá'ís at 200.000 or 6% of the nation were Bahá'ís in 2015 Either way it is the largest minority religion in Papua New Guinea, if a small one.

Christian Congregational Church of Samoa

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) is an international evangelical Christian Church originally established in Samoa by missionaries of the London Missionary Society.

Freedom of religion by country/Oceania

The status of religious freedom in Oceania varies from country to country. States can differ based on whether or not they guarantee equal treatment under law for followers of different religions, whether they establish a state religion (and the legal implications that this has for both practitioners and non-practitioners), the extent to which religious organizations operating within the country are policed, and the extent to which religious law is used as a basis for the country's legal code.

There are further discrepancies between some countries' self-proclaimed stances of religious freedom in law and the actual practice of authority bodies within those countries: a country's establishment of religious equality in their constitution or laws does not necessarily translate into freedom of practice for residents of the country. Additionally, similar practices (such as having religious organizations register with the government) can have different consequences depending on other sociopolitical circumstances specific to the countries in question.

Hinduism in Samoa

Hinduism in Samoa has had a small presence, with some being migrants from Fiji and the rest being local converts. The number of Hindus, like the number of Muslims, fluctuates repeatedly. As of the 2006 Samoan Census, there were 25 Hindus.More than 55% of Hindus are concentrated in Faleata West.

Human rights in Samoa

Samoa, formally the Independent State of Samoa, has a population of approximately 188,000 people. Samoa gained independence from New Zealand in 1962 and has a Westminster model of Parliamentary democracy which incorporates aspects of traditional practices. The Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) is currently in government and has been so for over 20 years. In 2016, Samoa ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD and the three optional protocols to the CRC While the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa provides for the protection of certain fundamental human rights, there continue to be several major issues. Major areas of concern include the under-representation of women, domestic violence and poor prison conditions.

Reports issued under the auspices of the United Nations have noted that societal attitudes towards human rights tend to be sceptical, this is attributed to concern that that enforcement of such rights will be at the detriment of Samoan customs and tradition. Another point of concern is Gay rights in the country as homosexuality is illegal.

Outline of Oceania

The following outline is provided as an overview and topical guide to Oceania.

Oceania is a geographical, and geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands—mostly islands in the Pacific Ocean and vicinity. The term is also sometimes used to denote a continent comprising Australia and proximate Pacific islands.The boundaries of Oceania are defined in a number of ways. Most definitions include parts of Australasia such as Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, and parts of Maritime Southeast Asia. Ethnologically, the islands of Oceania are divided into the subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

Outline of Samoa

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Samoa:

Samoa – sovereign island nation located in the western Samoan Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Previous names were Samoa from 1900 to 1919, and Western Samoa from 1914 to 1997. It was admitted to the United Nations on 15 December 1976. The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was known by Europeans as the Navigator Islands before the 20th century because of the Samoans' seafaring skills.

Piula Theological College

Piula Theological College is a Methodist training institution in Samoa. It was established in 1868 in Lufilufi on the north coast of Upolu island after its initial beginnings in 1859 at Satupa'itea on the south coast of Savai'i island. The Methodist Mission in Samoa purchased the land at the Methodist leaning district and later named their training center Piula Theological College. The name Piula is a transliteration of the biblical name Beulah which means married (to the Lord).

The college includes the recently renovated historic Piula chapel, large open grounds, and Samoan fale. At the front of the chapel are steps leading down to the sea where Fatumea, the oval Piula Cave Pool is, a popular swimming hole for locals and visitors.

Religion in Oceania

This page gives details on the outline of religions in Oceania.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Samoa–Apia (Latin: Archidioecesis Samoa–Apiana; Samoan: Puleaga Fa'aAkiepikopo Samoa–Apia) consists of the Independent State of Samoa.

Samoan culture

The traditional culture of Samoa is a communal way of life based on Fa'a Samoa, the unique socio-political culture. In Samoan culture, most activities are done together. There are 3 main parts in the Samoan culture, that is faith, family and music. The traditional living quarters, or fale (houses), contain no walls and up to 20 people may sleep on the ground in the same fale. During the day, the fale is used for chatting and relaxing. One's family is viewed as an integral part of a person's life. The aiga or extended family lives and works together. Elders in the family are greatly respected and hold the highest status, and this may be seen at a traditional Sunday umu (normal oven).

Samoan mythology

Samoan mythology tells stories of many different deities. There were deities of the forest, the seas, rain, harvest, villages, and war. There were two types of deities, atua, who had non-human origins, and aitu, who were of human origin.

Tagaloa was a supreme god who made the islands and the people. Mafui'e was the god of earthquakes. There were also a number of war deities. Nafanua, Samoa's warrior goddess hails from the village of Falealupo at the western end of Savai'i island, which is also the site of the entry into Pulotu, the spirit world. She also is regarded as a peace bringer, having brought peace to Savai'i through winning the wars between the two regions of the island. Tilafaiga is the mother of Nafanua. Nafanua's father, Saveasi'uleo, was the god of Pulotu. Another well-known legend tells of two sisters, Tilafaiga, the mother of Nafanua, and Taema, bringing the art of tattooing to Samoa from Fiti.

A figure of another legend is Tui Fiti, who resides at Fagamalo village in the village district of Matautu. The village of Falelima is associated with a dreaded spirit deity called, Nifoloa. The Mata o le Alelo 'Eyes of the Demon' freshwater pool from the Polynesian legend Sina and the Eel is situated in the village of Matavai on the northern coast in the village district of Safune.Samoan mythology is a variant of a more general Polynesian mythology in the Samoa Islands.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Samoa

As of December 31, 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 82,092 members in 20 stakes, 158 congregations (147 wards and 11 branches), one mission, and one temple in Samoa.

White Sunday

White Sunday is a national holiday in Samoa falling on the second Sunday of October, with the Monday following a public holiday. It is a day for parents and communities to acknowledge and celebrate childhood by hosting special programs during church services which include scriptural recitations, biblical story reenactments, and creative dance performances. Children receive gifts (often new clothing and/or school supplies) on White Sunday and are allowed privileges normally reserved for elders, such as being the first to be served food at family meal time.

On White Sunday, Samoan women and children dress completely in white clothing. Some of them trim the clothes with the other two colors of the Samoan flag, red and blue. Men will wear white shirts with either white slacks or the traditional 'i.e. faitaga form of the lavalava. If a lavalava is worn it need not be white. White Sunday is also celebrated in Tonga.

In the Samoan language the holiday is called "Lotu Tamaiti," literally "Children's Service" or "Prayer for Children."

There are differing opinions in regards to the origin of this holiday. Some believe White Sunday to be a Christian adaptation of an indigenous pre-contact celebration of certain planting and harvesting seasons. Others assert that the holiday coincides with a family celebration that became widespread in the 1920s in commemoration of Samoans who succumbed to the influenza epidemic of 1919; this epidemic, introduced through the ambivalence of the New Zealand colonial administration, took the lives of 1/5 to 1/4 of the Samoan population, many of them children. White Sunday is a time to also get with brothers, sisters and even cousins to recite something together. It is a tradition in all the Protestant churches..

New Zealand hip-hop artist Mareko has released an album named after it.

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