Prominent societal leaders repeatedly emphasized in public that the country was Christian. Public discussion of religious issues sometimes included negative references to non-Christian religions.
One of the elements of Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan way) has been the traditional, tightly knit village community. As noted in the papers for the SLRF review of the village fono law, village elders and the community at large often were not receptive toward those who attempted to introduce another denomination or religion into the community. Observers stated in many villages throughout the country, leaders forbade individuals to belong to churches outside of the village or to exercise their right not to worship. Villagers in violation of such rules faced fines and/or banishment from the village.
Traditionally, villages tended to have one primary Christian church. Village chiefs often chose the religious denomination of their extended families. Many larger villages had multiple churches serving different denominations and coexisting peacefully. However, new religious groups sometimes faced resistance when attempting to establish themselves in some villages.
As reported by media and in letters to the editor, there was a high level of religious observance and strong societal pressure at village and local levels to participate in church services and other activities, and to support church leaders and projects financially. In some denominations, financial contributions often totaled more than 30 percent of family income. This issue gained media attention from time to time, as members of society occasionally spoke out about pressure on families to give large amounts of their income to churches.