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Opinions of Monday, 7 April 2014

Columnist: Anim-Mensah, Alexander

Churches to Assist Improve Ghana’s Economy

- Engage in Economic Activities to Earn Income for the Nation

A balance life involves both the spiritual and the physical lives complementing the other. While the spiritual draws in to us inner peace and faith; the physical draws in money, food, shelter, and good health. Hence with the inner peace, tranquility, and with faith, one is able to draw in abundance of money, food and good health which in turn enhances one to be in a better position to be more and effective spiritual. In other words, the physical life complements the spiritual life. However, a skew of one creates imbalance resulting in materialistic with no inner peace world or overly spiritual or say, religious lacking the basics of good health, money, and food to support the continuing spiritual work. That is to say, to pursue good spiritual life one has to have a sound mind; as the saying goes “sound minds in sound bodies”. One therefore cannot pray effectively when one is going through calamities upon calamities for long periods especially when one is very sick with a long term disease without cure. Persistent calamities could even make you question the existence of a creator, the power of the creator or if the creator is with you and over time erode or derail one’s faith. Hence, external circumstances have effect on spiritual life as we all already know. Acts 3:7-8 demonstrates both faith and action resulting in expected effect; hence we ought to do more than just praying else the very life pray can be consumed by the surrounding hardship. The manna days are far gone and we have got to work hard, effectively and efficiently along praying in improving the economy of our dear nation, Ghana. Ghana is developing and has the main aim to become developed. For that reason, several approaches by the various governments have been deployed to grow Ghana economically. There are “ups” and “downs” which the present hardship presents its own challenges including tearing down the living standards affecting having soundness of the mind. All your time will be invested in the search for water, food, shelter and energy and no time to relax to do others including spiritual activities. I know the present administration is looking into several ways to improve on the living standard which includes boosting the private and public sectors.

In my view, the private sector regarded as the economic power house is on the decline because of the depreciating cedi and others; which, those previously involved in manufacturing have resorted to buying and selling to stay afloat. Moreover, the public sector is both inefficient and ineffective to grow Ghana’s economy by itself. This leaves a possible viable unconventional option in my view; tapping into the religious bodies especially the churches at this current time. The churches are growing at a much faster rate than Ghana’s economy hence attractive to be tapped into to assist grow the economy. This could provide some lasting solution and relieve the current nation’s hardship in a win-win way i.e. benefit to the church (religious body), members and overall citizens of Ghana. Though, most churches by the norm do not engage in political issues, they will, however, be affected indirectly by any political circumstances especially if members are affected by policies that leads to economic hardships. Therefore, it is critical that churches and religious bodies as a whole engage in economic activities for two reasons. First, to boost Ghana’s economic productivity and second, to understand the relationships between policies and economies affects a nation. Note that whatever affects the nation; affect every citizen including the religious bodies.

Ghana’s advantage on the above idea includes a greater population belonging to churches and other religious bodies. Ghanaians are religious by nature. And it is growing because of the uncertainties in the world gravitating more people to religion. This means greater portion of the nation’s money could be residing in religious organizations’ coffers from donation, offertories, tithes, and harvests with very little taxes earned by the nation since these resources are not used for any active economic activities. Greater portions of these resources often sit at the banks to earn little or no interest on savings. Moreover, churches have members from all walks of lives and professions which is a plus. Also, religious bodies including the church appear organized and accountable. In addition, some religious bodies have universities which add to the number of young and ambitious graduates each year, possibly increasing the skilled unemployment rate. We got to find jobs for these young, ambitious and energetic graduates to assist the economy. They have ideas and willing to apply them with no or little guidance from the experienced.

In general, greater portions of the religious organization coffers especially church are for running the church, acquisition of properties for the church and others with minimum engagement for viable economic activities to assist the members, church and the nation. We all know money in circulations means a lot to a nation since buying and selling will go on while the government earns taxes to assist citizens and the nation. The tables have turned and it is the turn of religious bodies especially churches to assist keep the nation on the cruise.

Religious bodies could tap and invest in viable business ideas from the various professions available in the congregations or members. The results earning better return on investment while keeping money in circulation, keeping idle minds and hands to work while the government earn taxes to assist the economy. Opponents to the idea will argue that the church place is not for economic activities - Jesus once did drove buying and selling from the church place. The idea here is not buying and selling as the market place but an idea with good intent to use the religious bodies such as the churches to its advantage to help itself, members/congregation and the nation. This will go a long way to even cloth the naked, feed the hungry and shelter the unsheltered, thus doing the word of God in a much effective way.

Opponents will question how judicious will the government use the taxes earned from this religious economic activities? Will corruption not result the money in people’s pocket? Proponents’ response is that, most of the corrupt and top officials belong to religious bodies and most hold top positions in these religious bodies. Any money used injudiciously will definitely go back to the religious bodies since the corrupt and top officials in most cases give the highest offertories, tithes, and donations. This will be a cycle which will never cease.

Opponent to the above idea will argue that the same people in the “world” involved in bribery and corruption are in the religious bodies and how secured these ventures will be sustained and grow given all these people wearing these different hats? Proponents’ argument is that the church is quite small compared with the whole nation hence different levels of checks and balances as well as policies can be instituted to curb the occurrences. Moreover, there are “wheat and tares”, “goats and sheep” and “wolf in sheep skin” everywhere but it is the policies which prevent the negative effects and this will make the goats behave as the sheep.

The above is only an idea to assist in developing Ghana for the benefit of all. Note that “what is good for the gender is good for the drake”. Note also that the situations in developed nations are different from the developing nations. And if we so want Ghana to develop and for us to alleviate some of the pending problems then we may need to think outside the box. I will appreciate if the numerous leaders of our various religious organizations use their positions effectively to effect the congregations to be self-sustaining with a bigger picture in view while executing their spiritual lives. I believe religious leaders and organizations have to do more than telling the word of God; a lot more is at stake. Faith without action could be meaningless. The hand that does not work will not eat and this is a fact of life. The good old manna days are far gone and we do not only have to work but work effectively and wisely in this competitive age. Let us apply the religious principles effectively, practically and with wisdom. It is with common understanding will our shackles be broken for us to develop. We have a lot to make it happen. Note that a country becomes prosperous when its citizens are productive; however, the necessary avenues need to be available for citizens to seize while changing our mindsets to be productive. We all have a stake to make it happen. God bless

Alexander Anim-Mensah, PhD

Dayton, Ohio