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Opinions of Sunday, 11 April 2010

Columnist: Ashiagbor, Kwaku Kele

The Ghanaian Condition (No 7)

TOO MUCH RELIGION-------THE BANE OF OUR DEVELOPMENT.

Karl Marx famously stated that “Religion is the opium of the people”and it appears he had in mind the modern trend of religious activities in Ghana when he made this proclamation.

Professor Max Assimeng of the Sociology Department –Legon in his book : Religion and Social Change in West Africa observes that Ghana’s Economic Challenges have gained root because of the use of a greater part of our productive hours in observing religious activities. He further stated that in any country where there is too much religion economic activity goes down and that all countries that are progressing are both religious and hard working at the same time.

Anyone doubting this assertion should take a trip round the various religious houses (chapels ) across the length and breath of the country from Monday to Saturday at working hours and see for himself or herself the truth or otherwise of this notion.

Sadly our President His Excellency John Atta Mills too seems to be caught up in this Religious Madness. He is on record as having said that he “wished the whole country is a prayer camp”when he was criticized for having some Pastors at the Castle for prayer sessions.

Currently in Ghana one of the most enterprising business ventures is to either form your own Church or work your way up the Church ladder to be a Church Secretary or Treasurer and most of the collections are yours to disburse at will.

I know of a Church in a particular suburb of Accra whose Church Secretary and some of the leadership are nothing short of Criminal Gangsters whose financial dealings will make the notorious Al Calpone of Chicago goes green with envy. Until quiet recently,and for three years in a row the accounts of this particular Church would be read at mid-night on the 31st December just before the New Year was ushered in.

The members of the Congregation are not given a copy of the accounts hence no one can study it and raise any criticism or queries. The sad aspect is that majority of the Congregation believe their contributions were being used for Church activities. As a Hungarian proverb rightly put it “Believers are happy,doubters are wise” Man by nature is a religious animal but the way Ghanaians spend productive time and money in religious activities leaves much to be desired.

Recently a friend told me of a dream he had and in this dream he saw God and angel Gabriel during the creation of the world. When God was creating Africa,in one particular corner of Africa he gave that land all the resources on earth including gold,diamond, timber,oil, rivers,cocoa,coffee and what have you.

Angel Gabriel thought God was being unfair in giving so much to that small land so he asked “My Lord,why give so much to such a small country and giving less to other bigger countries? God answered,my son I know what Iam doing. That particular land will be called Ghana and the people will be known as Ghanaians. Know what,they will be so lazy that they will spend most of their working lives praying to me for more and some of their leaders will be thieves of the highest order and will collaborate with foreigners in siphoning their resources to foreign accounts. This then is the bane of our lack of development.

The dependency mentality has taken so much deep seat in our psyche that we want someone to do something for us.

I know of one prominent Ghanaian female judge who was interviewed in the U.K and was asked how she got to such an esteem position,her answer was “by the grace of God she rose to such height”. The interviewer nearly fainted.If we have people of such education espousing such nonsense what do you expect less intelligent folks to say or do ?

Until and unless we emancipate ourselves from our slavish religious indoctrination,our greedy and cassanova pastors,thieving church secretaries and the likes will have a field day. We have to change our mind set and believe in ourselves. There is no nation on earth whose wealth is achieved through prayers alone but rather through hard work. One of the female journalists whose articles I enjoy reading in the Ghanaian Times wrote a rejoinder in the Times of April 8th regarding Professor Max Assimeng’s book which shook me to the marrow.

The title of her article was “Too much Religion,I beg to differ”

She asserted that the people who go to ‘all night’prayer meetings,retreats,and camp meetings are not only the illiterate and poor of our society and that a young proportion are young people,aspiring professionals,business tycoons and others who realize that God has to move in a dramatic way in our land for things to change.

We had Independence 53 years ago and have been praying since while countries like Singapore,Malaysia and other Asiatic Countries who also believe in God but are hard working have moved from 3rd world country to 1st world country and meanwhile we believe we do not pray hard or long enough so we have to go to all night services as well.

I am a Christian as well, but I do not believe religious fanaticism is the answer to the multiple challenges that we are facing in our motherland,if anything it is retarding our developmental agenda. The saddest aspect of it all apart from the financial malfeasance is the way and manner our pastors and church elders are abusing our women folks all under the guise of offering them prayers to cure all their problems.These stories are reported daily in our papers and are disheartening to say the least.

In Ghana we have Dr.Pastors, Prophets,Apostles,Miracle Workers and what have you. Very soon we will have the first Black Pope in the World living in Ghana. I sometimes wonder if it is our gullibility,naivety or plain inability to use our God given brain to reason things for ourselves that is why these Charlatans wearing dog collar and call themselves all the above names have a hold on our lives?

Karl Marx is indeed right in stating that “Religion is the Opium of the People”

Kwaku.Kele.Ashiagbor