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Rafael Ben-Ari / Alamy Stock Photo
Methodist Church Fiji.jpg
Rafael Ben-Ari / Alamy Stock Photo
World News

11 Methodist ministers quit in Fiji over compulsory Covid-19 vaccination

by Kelly Valencia

At least eleven ministers in Fiji have left the Methodist Church over the country's policy on covid-19 mandatory vaccination.

The church's secretary, Rev Wilfred Regunamada told local news the group had not been forced to resign but had done so of their own free will.

He said the church had continuously called them to ask "if they had changed their decision" but those who had not changed their mind and decided to leave were "farewelled very well".

Rev Regunamada, said the vacant positions had already been filled by other lay preachers and theology students within the church.

Last summer, Fiji's prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, announced the "No jab no job" plan, a policy that made it compulsory for all public and private workers to take the jab or risk losing their jobs.

"It does not matter if you are the CEO of a company, a sole trader or a salaried employee, you must be vaccinated to continue working or else that business will risk being shut down.
"No jabs, no job – that is what the science tells us is safest and that is now the policy of government and enforced through law," prime minister Bainimarama said.

Amnesty International said the blanket mandatory vaccine policy was not justified and urged Fiji's government to "a clear, effective, and transparent information strategy to address vaccine uptake... rather than resorting to oppressive measures which may deprive people of their livelihoods".

Two months after the policy was introduced, ten pastors of the Christian Mission Fellowship Church handed in their resignation after refusing to take the jab.

At the time, Rev Regunamada said Methodist ministers were being given time until November to get vaccinated.

"The church's stand is mainly to ensure the safety of its members which means that its ministers, who are servants of the people, need to be vaccinated first.

"At the moment, those that have not been vaccinated have been requested not to partake in any church services but have been advised to stay in their own homes and they are still being paid." Rev Regunamada added.

The Methodist Church is the largest Christian denomination in Fiji, with 36.2 per cent of the total population.

The government of the south pacific nation is pushing to get all its 300,000 adults vaccinated. At least eight per cent of those eligible have not come forward for a Covid jab.

Fiji has 141 active cases of Covid-19 in isolation while the death toll is at 820.

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