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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Columnist: Maxwell Okamafo Addo

Pastor Otabil’s sermons: Designed for public sympathy


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:As Prosperity Churches and Religious Marketers in Ghana are facing a dwindling tithe problems

It is fashionable today in Ghana for “Men of God” to put on an emblem of distinction, with a view to according them respect and treat them like second-in-command to the Creator. This in itself was heavenly-ordained because as Messengers of God, they are to be referenced.

The Founder of the International Central Gospel Church (ICCG), Pastor Mensah Otabil, some few days ago called on Ghanaians to demand better of governments. “We can’t just be happy because a road has been tarred. We can’t just be happy that we didn’t have electricity and now we have electricity.

He continued, “We can’t be happy with minimal,” and also added, “…citizens must have an appetite for better government,” Pastor Otabil said. Recently Otabil again demanded a change in "poisonous" Ghanaian environment.

Before I proceed I want to urge Pastor Otabil that it would be better if he attends national assignment like his other colleague pastors do so that it would prove a point as being nationalist rather entering into a fray that would cause him as a man of God.

The statement he made seems to have been designed to gain the sympathy of the public, assert new trend in ecclesiastical behavior and justify the abuse of religion. The abundant assumptions he advanced to support his position.

The Founder of the International Central Gospel Church (ICCG), Pastor Mensah Otabil, after seeing all the developments going on under the administration of President John Dramani Mahama. He’s telling Ghanaians that they shouldn’t be content with only development but money in their pockets.

Some of them have decided to literally suspended their ecclesiastical mandate and without caution dabbled into the murky waters of Ghanaian politics and have fallen from their exalted position and jumped into the political theater and they speak from the head rather than from the scriptures.

Do they know that election results in Ghana do not depend on prophecy or opinion polls? The truth of the matter is that election is fought and won on the fields and not inside churches or prayer grounds. Our politicians should beware of prayer grounds and other prophetic mediums promising electoral victories and convince the electorate to vote for their choice.

Yes, right to freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution but such a right is never a license to abuse a priestly platform and cast aspersions on the presidency. In other words, there is a limit to freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech does not condone the making of highly incendiary and inflammatory statements as they are doing some of them have mixed theology with politics.

Some of them are the highly controversial Moderator of the Presbyterian church Rev. Prof Emmanuel Martey, the Catholic Archbishop of the Accra Diocese Rev. Father Palmer-Buckle and the founder of the International Central Gospel Church Dr. Mensa Otabil .Their messages have been pro-Nana Addo and anti-John Mahama in form and content.

They have decided to literally suspended their ecclesiastical mandate and without caution dabbled into the murky waters of Ghanaian politics and have fallen from their exalted position and jumped into the political theater and they speak from the head rather than from the scriptures.

I can see it’s a tithe problem more people are getting wiser day by day the way they see pastors and their families living in opulence at the expense of the poor and needy in society.

Initially in Ghana Pastors were considered “the down-trodden, the strugglers, and the dregs of the earth” in the past.

As long as the pastors continue to craw behind the politicians, the opinion of the people about their position will not change. We know many Ghanaian pastors are not called by God.

His most uncharitable and inexcusable accusation against the present administration is not true and its evident for all Ghanaians. We trust that all patriotic, objective and non-partisan Ghanaians will reject that allegation knowing that things are being managed.

Despite the other false accusations against the President who believes in an honest, issues-driven presidential election contest and to Pastor Otabil. President Mahama will continue to carry forward his transformation agenda in changing lives and transforming Ghana in the power sector and other areas.

The President will not be discouraged or deterred from his objective of repositioning Ghana for accelerated and inclusive socio-economic development by the partisan and jaundiced views of power seekers like Mensah Otabil who cannot see the obvious results of the current administration’s efforts through their blinkered eyes.

While many in their congregation cannot afford three decent meals in a day, these pastors, who are mostly, located in the new wave Pentecostal movement, ferry collections to their banks in Bullion vans every Sunday.

They build churches that compete with the Basilica in Rome, cruise about town in state-of-the-art cars, and spend vacations in the most exotic tourist destinations across the world. Safe for a few, the majority of them would never lift a finger to ameliorate the sufferings of their poor parishioners.”

Proliferation of churches possibly represents business enterprise camouflaged as God’s work; and the purpose is to accumulate wealth. The genuinely called ones do not see their vocation as a means to a life of luxury. Churches such as the Catholic, the Anglican, and the Seventh Day Adventist etc have branches all over the world through which jobs are created for many people.

Their service outlets such as hospitals, schools etc create employment, render affordable health and educational services to the people regardless of their religious persuasion. These Churches have impacted various societies world over more than the religious marketers in Ghana.

For now I believe that all that he’s doing is because a member of one of the prosperity churches in Ghana Bishop Obinim is becoming more popular than him with his tricks and empty magic all to get media hype and attention from Ghanaians.

Nowadays our children are being told that all they need doing to get wealth is to donate to the church or Pastor and believe it. Pastors have converted Ghanaian churches to casino and betting centers. Spiritual gambling takes place in churches every Sunday! Like Obinim is doing.

Many of them have been called by economic deprivation, struggle for power to achieve control over personal and family problems. By calling themselves pastors they ought to be conscience of society. As God’s representatives on earth, their responsibility is to ensure that a healthy moral temperature prevails. Like ancient prophets, they are expected to warn the people about the dangers of disobedience and guide them to the path of righteousness. Indeed, pastors ought to live by example.

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