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Samoa Tourism

Tourism against Church in Samoa

Jul 26, 2009

It was a case of God versus tourism and He lost.

A church in the deeply-religious Pacific nation of Samoa has been issued with a court order to cancel its all-important Sunday service because the worshipping has been too loud.

The complaint was lodged by the hotel next door which claimed the volume of hymn singing had become so insufferable that some guests had packed their bags and moved out.

In a surprising move, Samoa's Supreme Court has sided with the hotel and forced the open-air Worship Centre Church in Apia to stop its Sunday service until it can get the singing down below 55 decibels.

Authorities have clocked worshippers at 83 decibels, the equivalent of a noisy kitchen appliance or an alarm clock heard from a metre away.

The lawyer for the church tried unsuccessfully to argue the Sunday noise levels were acceptable because most Samoans are singing at church then.

"It's a Sunday and everyone can expect that kind of noise on a Sunday," George Latu said.

"Only a person who doesn't like church singing would be annoyed by such an activity."

Enter Hotel Millennia management who say their guests, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, are in that minority group.

They say they're happy with the ruling, passed last Friday, but they understand their stance is controversial.

The legal action has sparked a moral row over the importance of religion and business in Samoa.

Most Samoans, almost all Christian, have sided with the church. One blogger wrote on the Samoa Observer website: "It's not fair to tell the churchgoers they must reduce their spiritual energy. It just doesn't work like that," Mike said.

"If you ask someone to reduce the way they praise God, God will reduce your life span or punish you in some way.

"How dare you take anything away from God, without whom there would be nothing! Especially hotels!"

But a couple supported the hotel, with one saying that louder worshipping was not rewarded with extra perks from God.

"No need to scream as God is here with us in the meaning of Jesus's name," the couple wrote.

"Sorry, but the church should lower their voice and if they're still shouting then we all know God is far, far, far away from them."

As for the church pastor, he reckons the issue is "in God's hands", but clearly He has been unlucky this time.

Tourism against Church in Samoa
Source: NZ Herald

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