The stampede at the Synagogue Church of All Nations that claimed four lives last Sunday has ignited a national debate on the role of religion in national life.Follow @Graphicgh
It is interesting Ghana is the only West African country with more than 50 per cent of its population being Christians, making the country a Christian nation, though there is no official state religion in the country.
The weekend’s tragedy has called to question the genuineness of most of our men of God. Already certain religious leaders have admonished the people, especially Christians, not to reduce religious worship to the regular demand for miracles that will change their well-being.
The importance of religion in our national life cannot be downplayed but certain interventions are required if religion is not to become, in the words of Karl Max, “the opium of the people.”
The statistics aside, Ghana is an established religious nation and that explains why more than half of the population attend places of worship on Fridays and Sundays. It is good to be religious as it builds strong moral values in adherents.
However, we need to desist from fanaticism to avoid the situation of the Jonestown massacre, Jesus Christ of Dzorwulu and the Mentukura episode.
Our constitution guarantees freedom of worship; therefore, it becomes very difficult for the government to legislate against the way the worship of God should be done.
Nonetheless, it does not mean that the government should be unconcerned when acts of certain religious groups restrict the freedoms of others.
What happened at the Accra branch of T.B. Joshua’s church last Sunday carried religious worship to the very extreme, especially coming about two weeks after thousands of people thronged the Spintex Road to catch a glimpse of the prophet and benefit from his miracles.
The painful death of the four must also be an indication of the failure of the religious leaders to guide the ministry of God away from those who are taking advantage of the vulnerable to lead God’s people astray. So now many Churches are involved in the sale of all kinds of merchandise like salt, olive oil, pomade,and water to their congregations believed to have been anointed by the men of God to heal all sicknesses, solve marital problems and all manner of problems.
Perhaps, our government too has failed in the delivery of the needs of the people as many of them turn to the church to take cover away from their deprivation.
Majority of the people troop to churches to seek devine interventions for their marital problems, unemployment challenges and protection from evil forces.
We think the government should step up efforts to deal with the increasing lack of social protection in the society for especially the vulnerable in the society.
There are very respectable people in God’s ministry who are doing their best to guide the people along the path of the Scriptures.
The DAILY GRAPHIC calls on our people to appreciate that at the heart of religious practice is prayer and so all religious adherents must make prayer the cornerstone of their faith.
And that is why we think the religious leaders should be assertive in redefining the role of religion in nation building and the search for salvation.
In sending out his disciplines, Jesus Christ charged them in Mathew 10 verse 8 to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
It is our belief that many men of God misconstrue this charge by Jesus Christ and have thus succeeded in convincing their followers to always expect miracles in their daily encounters with God.
We think all kinds of characters have been unleashed on the people as men of God, some parading the airwaves with their dangerous doctrines that have the potential to cause a national stampede of unimaginable proportions.
We need a major debate on the true role of religion in our free and diverse society without promoting the dominance of any religion.
Such a step should draw attention to the benefits of the true practice of religion that can promote stable families, healthy marital relationships and the renewal of moral and spiritual values.
Religious practice in our country is at the crossroads because many false teachings have taken root in all facets of national life.The DAILY GRAPHIC calls on all men and women of goodwill, especially the religious and political leaders, to cleanse the practice of the charlatans otherwise history will not forgive those who looked on while religion caused social disintegration of our country.