Christianity arrived in the Samoan archipelago in 1830. Since then, nearly everyone in American Sāmoa is Christian and if you have every driven past a village in the Territory, the biggest structure you will most likely notice is a church.
Although freedom of religion and the separation of church and state is guaranteed in the American Sāmoa constitution, Christianity's influence permeates all aspects of village life, including government affairs.
Christianity's status is so strong that it influences the majority of social issues, from abortion to same-sex marriage. Although the Establishment Clause prohibits the sponsorship of a state religion, Christianity is privileged in many aspects of government programs and offices. Many clergy also serve on various government bodies, including the American Samoan Language Commission, which reserves three seats specifically for ministers from the three mainstream churches.
Government affairs dictate that church ministers are invited at all functions, whether public or private, to officiate the opening and closing prayers. Church choirs may also be invited. Samoan custom also prescribes that they must also be "gifted" for their service, and this requires foodstuff and cash offerings - all at the expensive of the taxpayers. Although there is no state sponsored church, they are certainly compensated in other ways. This is no exception in public schools, where prayers are invoked and church ministers also share the same privilege as when invited to government functions.
In the neighboring Independent State of Sāmoa, where is freedom of religion is also a constitutional guarantee and Christianity is just as strong, trinitarian Christianity was declared the state religion in 2017. Although American Sāmoa is politically separate and has its own "Establishment Clause," Christianity's privileged status is tantamount to a state religion.
The Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution has been interpreted in various ways. It was originally meant to prohibit the establishment of a state religion. Originalists contend that it does not mean that a separation of church and state is implied, much to the chagrin of liberals and progressives. In American Sāmoa, this is merely
NOT FULLY AMERICAN
Does the U.S. Constitution Follow the Flag in American Sāmoa?