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Opinions of Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Obinim and cohorts at the theological stage of society

By Africanus Owusu-Ansah

“And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small chords, he drove them all out of the temple and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

John 2: 13 – 16

AUGUST COMPTE, born as Isidore Auguste Marie Francois Xavier Compte, in Montpeiller, France, in January 1798 was a Philosopher, who is credited with the founding of Sociology and the doctrine of positivism. Compte is said to have been influenced by the utopian socialist Henri Saint – Simon, and Compte’s positive philosophy, in turn, influenced the work of social thinkers like Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill and George Elliot.

Compte proposed that society undergoes three phases, following a general “law of three stages” — the theological stage; the metaphysical stage; and the positive stage. The theological stage depicted man’s place in society with impositions, restrictions on man referenced to God.

There was absolute belief in whatever was taught by man’s ancestors, with steadfast belief in supernatural power—fetishism, polytheism, monotheism prevailed. The second stage, the metaphysical, was the stage in which people started reasoning and questioning, including the questioning of authority and religion.

The third stage was the positive (scientific) stage in which science started to answer questions comprehensively, by positivism or empiricism (empirical evidence based on verified data).

Philosophers generally think the world has moved from the first two stages: theological and metaphysical, to the third: positive stage. But can one not argue that some people still live in the first two stages of society?

Bishop Daniel Obinim a.k.a.’ Double – Double’, the flamboyant man of God, said to have been born as Kwadwo Edem, has achieved popularity or notoriety; he agrees that he is “quick –temper(ed)”. He admits to having had sex with his junior pastor’s wife, justifying this on the altar of man’s fallibility. He once stormed Hot FM studios in Accra and engaged the people there in fisticuffs, destroying property.

Bishop Daniel Obinim who claims to be a true man of God (and not a false prophet) once threw a challenge to Bishop Owusu Bempah who averred that “Obinim is not from God.

How can a real man of God say he can turn into a snake and bite a fellow man? He is getting mad.” Obinim called into the programme on Happy FM: “If I’m not a man of God, Owusu – Bempah should expose me, I’ll strike him with my left angelic wing and he’ll be paralysed forever”. He also dared a fetish priest, Komfo Nana Appiah to a ‘who is who’ in Kumasi—who could lie in a coffin for thirty minutes.

Obinim is in the news again. This time round he publicly whipped a boy and a girl for having sex, ending in a pregnancy they tried to abort. In a video scene which had gone viral, the love birds were captured being whipped by Obinim with a belt; he invited his junior pastors to also give the couple blows.

When the girl ran to Obinim’s wife, Obinim shouted at Florence ‘Twe wo ho firi ne ho’ (Florence, stay away from her). A junior pastor was seen carrying the girl back to Obinim to continue with the whipping. How crude, insensitive! The mothers thought the action of their children was immoral, and God had used Obinim to teach them lessons.

This barbaric act by Bishop Obinim has received widespread criticism by social advocates who cite Constitutional provisions of ‘liberty’ and ‘dignity’ of the individual to condemn it. Lawyer Francis Xavier Kojo Sosu has taken the case to court. At the court, it is likely some of the issues to be raised will border on ‘consent’, and Comfort and another versus the Republic (1974)2 GLR will feature. Opinions may differ.

But in this appeal case, Osei Hwere J noted: “…the first appeallant … had hit the head of Abena Frema several times with a stick in her effort to exorcise Abena Frema of her evil spirit…. The defence is that the…witness voluntarily attended the first appellant’s prayer meeting so that the evil spirit in her would be exorcised.

She willingly submitted herself to stand in the nude before the crowd …. By section 86(1) of the Criminal Code, 1960 (Act 29), a person commits an assault and battery when, essentially, there does not exist the other person’s consent.

“Consent therefore, generally negates any offence of assault. I say ‘generally’ because I concede that the victim’s consent cannot be a defence for an assault if the blows inflicted are in the opinion of the court likely to cause bodily harm… Appeal allowed. Conviction and sentence set aside”.

This will be tested against Sir Michael Foster’s proposition that when a man beats another “in anger or from preconceived malice” he can be held responsible if fatal consequences follow the act. Professor Henrietta Mensah Bonsu thinks “if an act is ‘malum in se’ in the sense in which Sir Michael Foster used the words, that is to say, in itself, unlawful, we take it to be plain that consent cannot convert it into an innocent act”.

Some commentators have used Jesus’ whipping the money changers in the Temple as relevant in understanding Bishop Obinim’s act. The boy and the girl whipped by Obinim were above 18; naturally they might not need any enhancers to rev up their libidos. What would have happened if Obinim had quietly blessed their union and encouraged them to stay as man and wife?

Pastor Lesego Daniel of the Rabboni Centre Ministry, Guateng Province, South Africa, made news when he got his congregation to eat grass to make them ‘closer to God’; he made news again when he exhorted them to drink petrol which he had turned into pineapple juice, but warned: “The level of anointing is not the same, if you cannot turn water into wine, don’t try this”.

Karl Marx wrote: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”. In the original German in ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’, Karl Marx noted: “Die Religion ist das Opium des Volkes” sometimes translated as: ‘Religion is the Opiate of the masses’.

Vladimir Lenin in a speech in Novaya Zhizn in 1905 made allusions to Karl Marx’s comments: “Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labour of others are taught by religion to practice charity while on earth… Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image”.

Miracles can and do happen, but one may have to ‘look sharp’. One has to look carefully at the proliferation of new churches whose modus is to attack the orthodox churches: they may insist on walking barefooted – just as Jesus did 2000 – plus years ago; they may ask their congregation to step into the cash taken from their pockets and ‘cast’ it into a collection bowl!

They may reveal to you those in your family who are ‘doing’ you, including your mother, father, husband, wife, child, et al. Let me shut up lest Obinim should turn into a snake and bite me.

Writer's e-mail: africanusoa@gmail.com