Banjul, 20 December, 2019 / 1:25 am (ACI Africa).
Leaders of Christian denominations in The Gambia have, through their representative body, Gambia Christian Council, submitted a proposal to the Constitutional Review Commission to have the word “secular state” included in the preamble of the new Constitution that is being drafted.
“On 18 December 2018, the Gambia Christian Council submitted to the Constitutional Review Commission its proposal which advocates for the inclusion of the word “secular” and other provisions it wanted to be incorporated into the new constitution,” said the Bishop of Banjul Diocese, Gabriel Mendy in a recent press conference in Banjul.
Since the small West African country was declared an Islamic state by former President Yahya Jammeh, it “has been a testing period for Gambian Christians,” the 52-year-old Gambian Bishop said.
According to the Prelate, Christians in the nation have faced multiple challenges including “encroaching on their land demarcated as cemetery for burials, wearing of veils in Christian run schools, declaring the Gambia as an Islamic State, disparaging remarks about Christianity from the former head of state, the threats to close down the Christian cemetery in Banjul, the invitation of the Islamic Scholar Dr. Zakir Naik who publicly made critical remarks about Christianity.”
At the conference, the Spiritan Bishop clarified that the concept “secular” is not “irreligious” and does not necessarily exclude religious considerations in everything pertaining to the state such as not having public religious prayers and symbols and emphasized, “this is certainly not what the council is advocating for.”