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Opinions of Thursday, 28 March 2013

Columnist: Al-Hajj

$600,000 Israel pilgrimage - Enough of the tomfoolery

Was Ghana a paradise when another president bought for himself a $600,000 gold chain?

The Al-Hajj couldn’t have agreed more with Rev. Nana Anyane Boadum, founder and leader of the Jesus Generation Sanctuary Church when he accused some of his fellow clergymen of doing the bidding of politicians in the country in the Israel pilgrimage saga.

Reactions so far from majority of the leadership of the church subsequent to the turn of events of the proposed Christian trip to Israel clearly points to one and only one conclusion; that, they are yet to come to terms that there is a new President other than their preferred choice.

A careful scrutiny of utterances by some of the men of God ever since news broke out that the government of Ghana is sponsoring 200 Ghanaian pilgrims on a trip to Israel, will leave no one in doubt that, most of the positions so far expressed are not only hypocritical but also, clouded in political undertones.

These church leaders without any cross-checking from government whatsoever, and only relying on media reportage which suggested the government was spending $2,000,000 in sending pastors on the Israel trip, shouted themselves hoarse, condemning the idea with some of them citing the “current” economic and social hardship facing the nation as their reasons.

Specifically, they claimed it will be unwise for government to spend the nation's scarce resources in the face of the erratic power supply or “dum so dum so” as some would refer to it, shortage of gas and water etc, insisting; government could have channeled the money to other pressing needs.

This was in spite of assurances from the Youth and Sports Minister, Mr. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, who denied state resources was involve and that the cost was about $600,000 and not the $2,000,000 as alleged.

When eventually, President John Mahama in his interaction with some of these Christian leaders at the Flagstaff House last week Tuesday confirmed that government was not sponsoring any religious groups or individuals as had saturated the Ghanaian media and that the proposed pilgrimage to Israel was through the instrumentality of private sector organizations; these same religious leaders won’t budge, albeit; with shift in goal posts.

Though some of them described their meeting with the President as worthwhile, they nevertheless insisted “there is the need to put the trip to Israel behind us.”

“I don’t think the trip should come on; we need to go back to the drawing board and then talk seriously whether it is necessary to embark on that at all.” One of the church leaders told an Accra radio station.

Virtually casting aspersion at the president and moving away from earlier position of government wasting public resources, another church leader said he will not support any money coming from just any source; “from homosexuals. We will take the right decisions that will help the country.”

A common theme running through these church leaders’ chorus is that of Ghana having challenges that do not warrant the authorities spending scares funds on such a trip.

Without any scintilla of doubt, the clergy who have made it an article of faith to brand themselves as chief stakeholders of Ghana by ordering for the money meant for the Israel pilgrimage to solve problems facing the nation are just hiding behind the smoke screens of Christianity to do politics.

Where were these clergymen when the nation’s purse was dissipated with a valuable and whopping £600,000 to buy gold chains to hang on the neck of one president, Kufuor? Was Ghana a paradise? Was Ghana not facing the same challenges when such huge money was wasted on such fruitless venture, and why didn’t we hear these cacophony?

Is it the case that in a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins a case? Simply put the hypocrisy and double standards of these apostles of the gospel have been badly exposed by their own conducts and utterances.

The reality is, no amount of sizzling political proposals from the so-called knowers of the problems of Ghana will change people’s opinion about the emotional immaturity of these political assigns masquerading as preachers of the word of God. Do they ever, for a minute, take into account, the incalculable dangers their one-sided experimental political agenda through religiosity pose to the well being of the nation?

While our democracy has accorded us the voice we never had before, it also demands from us, particularly leaders, the commitment to show magnanimity and fairness towards one another, and each other with the deserved dignity. Where were these religious leaders who in recent times are quick to take swipe at the President and officials of NDC government when monies were flashed around during the Ghana at 50 Celebration under the erstwhile Kufuor administration?

Alas! Are some particular groups of people more Ghanaian than others? We have been in this country for some time now; none of us have lived on Pluto or Jupiter, haven’t we seen or heard successive governments sponsoring football fans to African Nations’ Championships and World cups. Was Ghana bubbling in scarlet when monies five times bigger than the one for the Israel trip were spent on soccer fans? Let’s be real and stop these double-standards.

The likes of these political church leaders in our nation’s religious and political space also attests to the quiescent character of how we adore the clergy, and our predisposition to choosing impulsive Pastors, whose insensitive and unprovoked attacks on the President, all geared towards doing the bidding of the their most preferred ‘lieutenant’, Nana Akufo-Addo, if left unchecked, will one day reduce our nation’s democratic accomplishments to rubble.

Does the provision of free speech confer on hypocritical religious leaders uninhibited privileges to express their unguarded and loutish views in public even if it is at the detriment of the national interest? If the preceding is what democracy and tenets of serving God is all about, then we must rethink our brand of religion, and re-socialise some of our religious leaders to learn good manners.

The nation has had enough of the tomfoolery of these hardcore politicians who clothe themselves with religious gowns pretending to be speaking for the masses but promoting the political agenda of their political assigns. They should just clean up and learn. If they want to do politics, they should step out with bold chest; after all, what business has the virgin got to do in the labor ward.

They should not wait for the leopard to have a toothache, before they transmogrify into goats to go and collect debts.

The pulpit abhors discrimination, divisiveness and hypocrisy. And it is high time these measly religious bourgeoisies get this right.