The age-old debate of Christianity vs LGBT has always been a delicate and difficult one for the Samoan diaspora and for the rest of the world.
Samoa-based pastor Eric Poe added fuel to that fiery subject when he took to social media to voice his concerns about the role of Faafafine in Samoa, suggesting they are ‘crossing over’ into the Samoa Tama’ita’i lane. (Young women).
The pastor was responding to a photo on Facebook of the current Miss Samoa Sonia Piva standing alongside the current Miss Samoa Faafafine Barbara Tino Tiufea Va’a at a recent Project Cinderella event held at the Mapuifagalele Home of the Age – a project co-ordinated by the Emerging Artists association in collaboration with the Samoa Faafafine Association (SFA).
“I appreciate and know that faafafine are doing a lot of charity work, but there is a fine line between doing a good thing and the right thing,” said Poe.
He reminded Samoans that Samoa is not just a democratic nation but a Christian nation where culture is sacred.
“I am very concerned when it comes to the rights of tama’ita’i Samoa. While the advocators of violence against women are condemning the men for abusing the women, I believe this is one way the cultural rights of women are being abused by the faafafine but we are not really discussing them.
“I think this freedom that is given to the faafafine has to be guided by some principles and be given limitations when it comes to Samoan women’s sacred cultural belongings, cultural rights and cultural inheritance.”
His post caused a heated debate with commenters both slamming and supporting his views.
“Faafafine have been pioneers and key holders of our history and traditions and they paved there own way into our fa’asamoa by servicing and providing so much to our people. It’s dehumanizing for you to speak and single out faafines as if it’s something new to Samoa,” said one commenter.
“Totally agree and I commend you on your brave comments…keep true to your values and your christian faith,” said another.
Pastor Poe unapologetically stood by his statements, posting again shortly after to reaffirm his right to his own opinion.
Mr Poe is also the director of Teen Challenge Samoa, a non-government organisation which uses a faith-based approach to help teenagers and young adults deal with the problems related to alcohol, drugs, depression and violence.
The programme which works in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice has been successful in helping to rehabilitate young offenders.
Earlier this year, he called on the Government of Samoa to boycott the release of the movie Fifty Shades Freed.
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