The Balance between Church and State in Tonga: A Study in Mutual Respect between the Latter-day Saints and the Royal Family
Journal of Mormon History
University of Illinois Press
"In the 1840s, Joseph Smith proclaimed, “Don’t let a single corner of the earth go without a mission”1 and sent missionaries to the Pacific region in 1843. Taking the restored gospel to foreign countries necessitated cultural sensitivity. This was especially true later in the 1890s in Tonga where the missionaries and church leaders interacted with cultural traditions as well as island politics and religions to build bridges with the Kingdom of Tonga rulers. In addition, Tongan converts learned to respect their culture and find a proper balance between church and state, gospel principles, and cultural traditions. As a result, missionaries and local members developed good relationships with the royal family, the nobility, and government leaders over the past century and that respect has been reciprocated. Members feel comfortable in obeying and worshipping their God and at the same time showing loyalty and respect to their king, queen, and the nobles. That condition of goodwill between church and state was not common, but in Tonga those efforts preserved the Saints culture and allowed to sift their traditions through the gospel instead of sifting the gospel through their culture. This mutual association came with great perseverance, exemplary behavior, patience, long suffering, service, and understanding."