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Mauna Kea rules obstruct religion, critics warn

HILO >> Proposed rules for cultural practices on Mauna Kea are drawing criticism from those who say the rules interfere with their beliefs.

About a half-dozen people spoke out against the regulations at a Maunakea Management Board meeting Tuesday.

“You are not my church, you are not my priest, you are not my minister,” Chandell Asuncion said.

The board agreed to have its Native Hawaiian advisory group review the proposed rules, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.

The draft regulations would require a permit for construction of cultural features, prevent offerings from being placed on roadways or existing structures and require cremated remains to be scattered out of public view. They would also prohibit the “stacking or piling of rocks.”

Stephanie Nagata, the head of the management office, said the rules aren’t intended to regulate religious beliefs.

The office needs to know who is responsible for building altars and other cultural figures at the site to determine whether they are authentic, she said.

“It’s a compliance issue for us,” Nagata said.

All those who voiced opposition to the rules Tuesday have been involved in protests over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the mountain.

Opponents of the project built several altars, known as ahu, on Mauna Kea during demonstrations last year.

Attorney Lanny Sinkin said he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to prevent adoption of the rules, although he acknowledged he hadn’t yet seen them. The suit was filed on behalf of Frank Kamehameha Tamealoha Anuumealani Nobriga of the Temple of Lono, which is involved in the telescope case.

The proposed regulations would also allow Mauna Kea rangers to tell people to leave developed areas, consider any vehicle left for 48 hours to be abandoned, prohibit disorderly conduct and camping and allow the office to set public access hours.

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  • This is not religion, it’s a protest. There is no history of religious practices at these sites. To some people, science is religion. The telescopes are science. Blocking the telescopes violates many more people’s beliefs than these protestors.

    • True. Most Hawaiians want the telescopes. A small number of cynical fanatics who don’t know Hawaiian culture from a turnip have too long dominated the discussion.

    • Did anybody go up there to practice anything before the road up there was built so it is easy to get up there? Religion is not the issue – the issue is that some people just want to suck out personal importance into their empty lives by protesting and being considered (in)famous because of media coverage.

  • Ignorance is bliss as many advocate. However how can individuals progres to improve one’s lot for lack of know how? How can one profess that any surface of land anywhere is sacred. To the victor remains the spoil. Who are the victors?

  • 1. The old Hawaiian religion was killed by the native leadership in 1819, the year before the missionaries came from Boston. If there is such a thing as the exercise of self-determination by an “indigenous” people, this was it. They killed the religion dead. King Liholiho Kamehameha 2, his mother Keopuolani who had the highest mana in Hawaii and was sacred wife of Kamehameha The Great, his stepmother and regent of the Kingdom Ka’ahumanu, and High Priest Hewahewa — all 4 leaders together publicly violated the ‘aikapu at a huge luau to publicly insult the old religion in front of the natives, then announced the old religion was dead, and ordered the destruction of all heiaus and burning of the wooden god idols. Today’s handful of people who claim to believe in the old religion are probably lying about their beliefs, but in any case these low-level pipsqueaks cannot and do not speak for ethnic Hawaiians as a group.

    2. In today’s society it has become commonplace for con-artists and politicians to (ab)use religion for political purposes. They know we generous and kindhearted and tolerant people give great respect when someone claims to have religious beliefs; so they exploit our toleration as a weakness when they cynically and hypocritically pretend to hold religious beliefs, using those claims as mere political tools. Those con-artists do not deserve our respect; what they deserve is all the ridicule we can heap upon them as we laugh and humiliate them.

    3. See webpage whose title describes its main point: “Hawaiian religious fascism. A twisted version of a beautiful creation legend provides the theological basis for a claim that ethnic Hawaiians are entitled to racial supremacy in the governance and cultural life of the Hawaiian islands.”

  • Is there any documented account of religious practices on Mauna Kea? If not, it is just a bunch of lies. Any one trained in the ancient religion? I wonder how many celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and other Christian holidays.

  • At some point Hawaii is going to be hit with the First Amendment prohibition against creation of a state religion. The state Supreme Court would of course rule against it, but higher courts are a bit more nuanced. Smarter minds in state might not want to open that box through state actions, unless they are sure of what the outcome would be.

    • The protesters’ assertion that Mauna Kea is a sacred place and therefore the government should not put telescopes there is a demand to establish their ancient Hawaiian religion as an official religion for the government of today’s Hawaii.

      The Hawaiian zealots, numbering perhaps a few hundred, expect 1.4 million people of Hawaii to knuckle under to their religion. Just like Israel is a nation where Judaism is the established religion of the government; just like Saudi Arabia has Islam as the government religion and the mullahs run around beating or arresting women who are not wearing a face-covering or who dare to drive a car; so the Mauna Kea zealots want the ancient Hawaiian religion to be established as the government religion of Hawaii so that their “sacred mountain” will be prohibited as a place for telescopes and their mullahs feel free to enforce the ancient religion by blocking the road to the summit.

      And Mauna Kea is not the only place “sacred” to their religion. I have repeatedly challenged activists to give me a list — even just one name — of any place in Hawaii that is NOT “sacred land”, and they never reply. Every inch of Hawaii land must be subjected to their Hawaiian religion. But the U.S. Constitution forbids the establishment of a government religion; and like it or not, Hawaii is part of the U.S.

      The activists have spent many years using public hearings and lawsuits as mere devices to block construction, knowing they would never abide by any final decision contrary to their views. They have been disrespectful to the processes whereby our multiracial, multireligious community makes decisions. Anyone now calling for further discussions and reconciliation is merely throwing up another roadblock. Ask any such person whether he promises to step aside and stop blocking the telescope project if his process for further discussion results in a decision to move forward with the project. The answer will be no, which means we can ignore him as nothing more than a noisy hooligan.

  • “About a half-dozen people spoke out against the regulations at a Maunakea Management Board meeting Tuesday.”
    Maunakea Management Board = government agency.
    “The board agreed to have its Native Hawaiian advisory group review the proposed rules…”
    “(I)ts Native Hawaiian advisory group …” = State-sanctioned racial qualification for office.
    US Costitution, Article I, Section 9: …
    “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: …”
    Title of Nobility = hereditary title.
    US Constitution,Amendment XiV: …
    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
    Hawaii Constitution, Article I, Section 5: …
    “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of the person’s civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry.”
    The defense of “sacred land” is an extortion racket: “give my useless cousin a $60,000 do-nothing consulting contract and I’ll leave you alone”.

  • who and what office thinks they can adjudicate what is culturally authentic?

    If Hawaiians built it, it is authentic…

    these rules cannot possibly pass muster…

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