As you know I am a Master of Ceremony at a couple of entertainment establishments around the island. It is a normal practice for me to open the night with a prayer and close that prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.
A couple of nights ago, after saying the prayer and grace, a man came to me and said, and I quote:
“I appreciate you giving the invocation and everything but I do not appreciate the mention of Jesus Christ in your prayer. I am a Jew and I was insulted. This is a public place and you should not be forcing your beliefs on to anyone.You can say those things in your churches but not in a public place.”
I did reply to him but I could see that he was not willing to listen. This is why I strongly feel that I should write to you, Mr Editor, so that he and anyone else, with the same thoughts as this man, can know where I stand. I know that I also speak for 99.9% of the population of the Cook Islands.
I want to make a public statement.
First of all, in our country we have people from India, Japan, China, Fiji, Philippines, Russia, USA, Korea, South Africa, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, France, Australia, NZ and many other countries.
Not only visiting but living here peacefully and joyfully.
To this man, welcome to the Cook Islands. Turou, oro mai. We greet you with open arms and with a garland of flowers and a warm smile that radiates from the heart. Come visit, invest, stay, retire, enjoy the last heaven on earth. Worship your God any way you want.
Welcome to a country that is based on Christian beliefs and principles. We believe in God and in his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.
We say public prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. We say these prayers not only at our churches but also at public schools, rugby practices, netball practices, dance practices, working bees, weddings, traditional investitures, AGM meetings, all public meetings. We even have a sign on the road in Arorangi that says “Jesus loves you”. We are proud of that sign.
All our members of Parliament are Christians and they start their parliament meeting every time with a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ and it’s done live on radio!
All our traditional leaders are Christians, the Ui Ariki, Ui Mataiapo, Ui Rangatira, Kau-taunga, Ui Kavana – all of them. Our ancestors accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour way back in 1821.
They made that commitment then, as we also do today. We put symbols of our Saviour on our buildings, we praise him shamelessly, we acknowledge his hands in all things and we hope to be in his good books when he pledges our case with GOD the FATHER.
If you don’t like what we do then I suggest you go to another country that would agree with your ideals. There are many of these countries that would agree with you.
But do not come here and tell me how I should say my prayers in public.
I make this public statement in the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.