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Opinions of Saturday, 17 October 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

Mahama preaches to pastors

‘Today, you see personal aggrandizement in the name of God in the church. This is very sad. If God has given you a gift, He did not give it to you to promote yourself; He gave it to you for the purpose of his work’. (John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana).

Last week saw a lot of activities in my beloved but denied Western Region because the President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama and his entourage visited us. He started well but the end of his trip has generated a lot of public anger because of a statement from one of his faithful followers. I am leaving the pomposity of the stinking Stan Dogbe for now. I wish those journalists involved in the accident a speedy recovery. The accident, dear reader, occurred some 500 metres away from where I live.

President Mahama admonished Pastors not only of the Assemblies of God Church in Sekondi-Takoradi, but by extension all practitioners of the Christian faith throughout the country. This nation has enjoyed freedom of religion for a very long time even though some religious groupings have taken it upon themselves to label other religious groups as fetish without looking at the moral foundations of those faiths.

The substance of the President’s sermons is founded on the known fact that today, religion particularly the Christian faith, has become a huge industry motivated by material and financial considerations rather than a vehicle for the moral and spiritual wellbeing of the people. There is absolutely no doubt that a people who have lost the moral foundations of their existence are bound to fail. Moral values based on the culture and beliefs of a people are very essential to the development of the mindsets and the thought patterns of a people.

Most churches in this country today have become money making machines for their leadership by taking advantage of the vulnerability of the poor suffering people and exploiting them by false prophecies and non-existing miracles that are supposed to change the lives of their congregants. The word of God is today sold to the highest bidder in most churches in this country. Morality and spirituality have given way to materialism of the world in most churches today in Ghana. The immodest lifestyles of most church leaders today in the midst of such debilitating poverty among even the congregants of those same churches, is alarming.

The most negative part of the activities of these churches and their Pastors, many of them with dubious PHDs from universities unknown to the world, is the fact that they make it difficult or near impossible for their members to use their brains for productive activities towards their personal development since they are promised miraculous prosperity without sweat in exchange for material and financial things those donors have worked hard at a point in time to acquire.

It has become very common these days to see mostly healthy and productive women abandoning productive work in the working hours of working days shouting and crying in churches for God to come to help solve their problems when their counterparts are on the farm fields, in the markets, in the offices, factories and other such commercial centres, sweating it out to make money to take care of themselves. They are supervised by these pastors in these unproductive and negative ways of life for themselves as individuals as much as the nation.

The most dangerous religious phenomenon in Ghana today is the life threatening noise pollution being inflicted upon innocent people of this land by churches while the Police and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sit down unconcerned. One cannot walk anywhere within 200 metre radius in this country without hearing an ear-breaking noise in the name of religion. These noises go on 24 hours daily in residential communities deep into the night without any regard for the residents in that community.

The most annoying fact is that, those who congregate in the open structures they call churches do not live within the communities where they create those deadly nuisances. They leave their children and wives in their homes and disturb others in their sleep with impunity. The arrogance of some churches and some Christians is very unhelpful to communal co-existence. Get near a so-called church with the noisy public address systems beaming as if it were in a Sports Stadium and the congregation in that church does not go beyond 20 people.

The voice echoing throughout the community in the middle of the night is that of the Pastor alone who has the monopoly of the microphone. He could as well have preached without the microphone to the hearing and understanding of his congregants and save the thousands living around the vicinity who are not members of the church but have to suffer the agony of having sleepless nights after a hard day’s work and the hustling and bustling life of our times because somebody wants to commune with his God. Even the day time is not spared the noises and nuisances by these charlatans calling themselves Pastors.

While I appreciate the admonishment to the Pastors by the President, I am disappointed that the President did not touch on some of the activities I have mentioned above which have serious negative effects on the development of this country and unlawful as well. Noise making is regulated by law and the churches are not above the law. The President must be bold enough to draw the attention of the Pastors and the clergy to the harm, the silent health danger they expose this nation to on a daily basis.

Aunty Elizabeth Ohene’s piece in The Daily Graphic of Wednesday October 14, 2015 tells you how the outside world sees this nation as a noisy and disorderly people. The church plays no mean role in this negative perception about us. We are also perceived, indeed it is not even a perception, it is a fact that we have, by and large, become a bunch of lazy people who want to enjoy the best in life through miracles instead of hard work. And the churches are those leading that unfortunate crusade.

The churches are further endangering the health of our citizenry when they attribute every conceivable malaise to some unseen spirits. Sick people are detained endlessly in church houses for healings that do not help the ‘patients’. They are rushed to hospitals when the problem had gotten out of hand. Many of them die eventually. I wished the President had pointed out this to the Pastors and the religious leaders in this country to save our fellow human beings from the hands of these charlatans.

While no one has the right to challenge the religious beliefs of any individual or group of individuals, and even attempt to direct their mode of worship, it is worth drawing the attention of those people that their right to worship should not deny other citizens their right to enjoy their peace at any given point in time. The avoidable noises from the churches are blatant invasion of our homes and distraction of our thoughts and peace of mind. I wish the President would take note of this to further advise the churches in future occasions and enforce the laws as well.

Mr. President, it is also not only the Pastors who have been given gifts by God to be used for the collective good of mankind. Politicians are in their positions to help improve the lives of mankind. Politicians and leaders of all categories in our society who use their positions for personal aggrandizement are as much guilty, if not more, as the Pastors who exploit their congregants. There is so much misery in our society because of the selfish expropriation of public resources for private interest.

So as you advise the Pastors and the clergy to use their gifts to serve humanity, you have a responsibility to use public resources to improve the lives of the people and not to inflict such painful difficulties as we are experiencing in this country today. Is it a matter of removing the log in your eyes first? I rest my case. Daavi, times are hard just give me three tots of my bitters to check my how far.