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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Columnist: Kwame Twumasi-Fofie

Coronavirus restrictions: Why is it the church owners and not the church goers who are complaining?

I decided to write this piece after listening to a fiery video ranting of an obviously aggrieved Pastor on social media, who for the purpose of this article, especially since I don’t know who he is, I would refer to as an Unidentifiable Insulting Pastor (UIP).

The sole speaker in the almost eight minutes video starts by telling his listeners how extremely angry he is, and even before he starts his insults which I don’t intend to repeat here, prays to God to guide him in saying what he has on his mind which according to him, may result in him being arrested as has been the norm in recent times.

The title of his ‘sermon’ (for want of a better word) is: “We Can Risk Our Lives For Elections But Not For Our Faith???” And to make his point clear, the video shows scenes from some voting centres of the recent NPP parliamentary primaries which we all saw on TV.

He then goes on to ‘charge’ all Men of God - Bishop Agyinasare, Archbishop Duncan-Williams, Dr Mensah Otabil, Dr Owusu Bempah, Dr Opoku Nyinah and all - to rise up and act otherwise they will all answer (for their inaction) before God. Finally, he concludes with this strong warning: “mark my words, if by the end of this month (June this year) the churches are not allowed to function, I’ll cause a spiritual stir in the atmosphere. We will see natural disasters. We will see animals come into our dwelling places… We will see prominent people just going….”

So you see the type of ‘Men of God’ we have in this country. This man claims to have the power to ‘cause a spiritual stir in the atmosphere and create natural disasters’ yet he doesn’t have power or doesn’t intend to use the power he claims to possess, to eradicate COVID-19 from our country, if not the face of the earth. Meanwhile, the only reason for Ghana, and indeed the whole world, not being in ‘normal times’ is this COVID-19 pandemic.

It is because of it that international airports and borders have had to be closed, industries and other businesses have collapsed, and that we have to endure the discomfort of wearing a facemask in public and the inconvenience of having to wash our hands before entering workplaces among many others.

Well, I’m not daring the UIP, but perhaps he needs to be reminded of the Akan saying that ‘the mischievous priest who makes a doomsday prophesy should understand that he will equally suffer from whatever calamity that results from the prophecy.

The President’s breakfast prayer meeting with clergy

One interesting thing about the list of Men of God he called upon to speak up is that almost all were among the religious leaders the President invited to the Jubilee House for his breakfast prayer meeting on 19th March 2020. But conspicuously missing are leaders of the churches whose schools have educated the majority of Ghanaians and continue to educate our children, and whose hospitals continue to provide health services to many of us. I’m talking about the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican and SDA churches. What one can’t fail to observe is that all the pastors he called upon are those who are founders and owners of their respective churches as I believe he himself is.

I recall the answer one pastor gave Kofi Adoma Nwanwani of Kofi TV when it was suggested to him (the Pastor) that even with the lockdown in a place he could still preach to his church members by means of the virtual platform. At least, that Pastor, unlike this UIP, was candid enough to dismiss the suggestion by querying: “and where do you expect the offering to come from?” It is, therefore, not about people not being allowed to go to church but about the dwindling income of church owners.

The NPP parliamentary primaries

To call a spade a spade, the scenes we all saw at some of the election centres at the NPP’s parliamentary primaries were simply unpardonable and I don’t expect any honest person to see it otherwise. To put it mildly, it was as if on that day, and at those centres, the COVID-19 safety protocols were not in force.

It is for this reason that I would gladly have supported the UIP if his agitation had been for the authorities concerned to pick up some scapegoats to face the law as a deterrent to all of us ahead of the busy political calendar we have ahead of us. But certainly, that was not his concern. Rather, the reason why he must insult everybody in Ghana is that the churches are not being allowed to commit the same crimes he accuses these politicians of having committed. I really pity him. Of course, as he clearly pointed out, the country does not belong to the politicians. But need he is told that it is not for pastors like him either? So, from where did he get this idea that ‘they’re spoiling it so allow me also to spoil it and if you don’t allow me to do it then God will punish you’?

Have Christians been unfairly disadvantaged?

I see any claims to the effect that Christians have been treated unfairly in favour of any other section of the community as being without basis. In the first place, at least publicly, Christian leaders were the first group of people the President met with and sought their advice and blessings.

And who says a church service cannot be held within one hour which in fact is the normal duration of services in other countries? In any case, who says God is hiding inside any church in Ghana so that if you don’t go to church you’re not going to receive His blessings or as being claimed by this UIP it means you’ve lost your faith in Him?

The inconveniences the whole world, including Ghana, has had to contend with are numerous. Just in case UIP is not aware, here are a few of them. People who had travelled to other countries for various reasons have been compelled to spend as much as three months to date in foreign lands, unable to return home because international borders are closed. Economies of countries, both powerful and small, are struggling to stand on their feet. Businesses, from micro to multinational, are collapsing and God’s children dying like never seen before in the lifetime of most of us – more than 500,000 deaths within about three months when we are not at war. Indeed, we are not in normal times.

And the point is that it is not as if church activities have been banned completely. Like almost all activities in Ghana and the world over, including even those which are mandatory and essential to life (like our children’s education and going to sell or buy the food we eat), it has become necessary for restrictions to be put in our way, and we have to live with them, unfortunately.

I would, therefore, humbly, advise my fellow human being and countryman, the UIP and all genuine Men of God in Ghana, to pray to God to eradicate COVID-19 or give us the cure for it rather than any thought of using whatever godly or ungodly powers they may possess to “cause a spiritual stir in the atmosphere… to cause “ natural disasters”.

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