Feature Article of Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Columnist: Daily Post

The Clergy Must Stop Labelling Themselves With Partisan Colours

( Part 1)

The sermon of the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Most. Rev. Prof Emmanuel Asante at the 26th anniversary of the Men's Fellowship of the Accra Ridge church on Sunday which was published on the front page of yesterday's edition of the 'Daily Graphic' with the heading 'Stop labeling clergy as partisan' makes very interesting reading.

According to the state-owed newspaper, the Most. Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante “bemoaned the situation where leaders of the church are tagged as being partisan when they state their position on issues of national concerns” The Chairman of the Peace Council went on to state that “tagging of religious leaders and statements was not in the interest of national development and therefore, asked Ghanaians to build the value of political tolerance as the country prepared for the December elections” The Most Rev. Prof. Asante went on to talk about the need for political tolerance which he says will ensure that Ghana does not go down the path of chaos.

Well said. The Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante has spoken well. This is how men of God must talk. However, he missed the crucial point on the involvement of the clergy in the political discourse of this country. The recent uproar against some members of the clergy is not because they expressed their views or concern on a national political; it is the double standards of their standing that has got the gall of many.

That party politics is a terrain that can be very rough is a fact of life. It was because of this fact that the late A.A. Munifie, a very seasoned politician, at a rally in Ashaiman, admonished those who cannot stand nonsense, to stay away from it. It is in recognition of this fact to protect the sanctity of the chieftaincy institution, the 1992 Constitution on which our democracy is built enjoins chiefs not to venture into party politics.

We at the Daily Post hold that the sanctity of the church is more sacred than that of the chieftaincy institution. Thus, if chiefs should stay away from party politics to preserve the sanctity of the institution, then it is more imperative for the clergy to stay away from same to protect the sanctity of the church. Of course, to protect the sanctity of the church does not mean that the clergy must not be concerned with governance and the politics of the day. What is required of them is to refrain from dabbling in partisan politics and to be consistent when it comes to general politics.

It is well for the clergy to condemn the excesses of Government 'A' but when Government 'B' does same and the clergy keeps quiet, why must the people not murmur against them? Unfortunately, this is not the way some members of the clergy have gone. They have chosen to dabble in partisan politics, preying on the spiritual needs of members of their congregation for the benefit of the political party they support. They use the pulpit to preach party politics, instead of salvation. Jesus Christ definitely will not have accepted this practice just as he will not accept the practice of doing business in the church (Did he not say “This is my fathers of prayer yet they have turned it into a den of thieves)

When a member of the clergy stands in the pulpit to preach support for Party 'A' against Party 'B', what should members of Party B do? Sometime last week, in the deep of the night when listeners of Adom FM tuned into the station to listen to inspiring preaching as they use to get from Rev. Gabriel Ansah, what they got from Rev Agya Owusu of Resurrection Power & Living Bread Ministries is a cacophony of noise about why the Electoral Commission should not go ahead to create the 45 new constituencies. Just fancy that. Rev. Owusu, we know, is a dye-in-the wool NPP activist but is it not best for him to keep party politics out of his sermon? Or is it that NDC supporters are not allowed into his church?

Take the case of Bishop Matthew Addae-Mensah, General Overseer of the Gospel Light International Church located at Orion at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra. Right before his congregation, he spoke about his hatred for the NDC, attacked NDC leading figures and claimed that Radio Gold (which he perceived as pro-NDC) was working for the devil! Must such a person be treated and accorded the respect that will be accorded the likes of Apostle Opoku Nyinah of the Pentecost Church or Rev. Eastwood Anaba of the Fountain Gate Chapel?

…..See Part 2