Rescue the vulnerable children
In our front page story yesterday, we reported about more than 30 primary school pupils and junior high school students who had abandoned their homes, families and education to “seek salvation” at a certain Synagogue of Mercy at Nambeg in the Jirapa municipality in the Upper West Region.
According to the report, the children, who lived on the church premises, are said to be pursuing their salvation, since, to them, they need no certificate to enter heaven.
The Daily Graphic is worried about this development in these modern times when human rights and the rights of children especially have become topical issues around the world.
The UN declaration on the rights of the child recognises that the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care.
If the police are still investigating to find out whether there is any criminality for prosecution, as they said when they were contacted, then they should be reminded that the children who have abandoned school, home and family to pitch camp in the church need the necessary care for their well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of their parents, legal guardians or other individuals legally responsible for them.
Does the pastor have legal rights as a guardian or an individual to take care of these vulnerable children? These children also need services and facilities that conform to standard, especially in the areas of safety, health and competent supervision. Can we say these children are safe?
That is why we agree entirely with a senior investigator of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Hakeem Suleman, that it is wrong for anyone to act in a way that will obstruct the education of a child and any other right of the child, for that matter.
It is heartrending that at this stage of their lives these children have been brainwashed to the extent that they believe that they do not need academic certificates in this world.
As a country, we seem to be drifting into dangerous grounds with the mushrooming of pastors and churches under the guise of leading the flock to heaven.
Citizens have been bombarded with strange doctrines which one dare not condemn because they are coming from God.
We think people have the right to worship the way they want, but we also reason that the rights and dignity of persons and the laws of the land should never be compromised for a doctrine whose source only the one who had his or her vision can explain.
It seems religion has become a cheap avenue to make money and attain some status in our society, the reason our industrial enclaves and relaxation centres have become a pale shadow of themselves, having all been turned into churches.
We vehemently advocate immediate action to collectively deal with these latter-day pastors and Imams who would want to destroy gullible citizens.
The story of Rev. Jim Jones of Guyana, the cult leader who led 918 of his members to commit mass suicide, 304 of whom were children, in 1971 has not been forgotten.
As usual, yesterday, a group belonging to the church in question turned their aggression on a Metro TV journalist and the chief of a neighbouring town, Yagha, when they found them in the vicinity of the church.
Strangely, the attackers including minors, had the audacity to warn the chief to stay away from matters affecting their church.
And if the chief had not called his elders in time, we cannot tell what would have happened in his palace yesterday.
This is how far brainwashing can go.
We applaud CHRAJ for the action it has taken so far in an attempt to arrest the pastor.
But we also ask the police, the Department of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Jirapa Municipal Assembly to team up and and liberate the children before the worse happens.
The Daily Graphic also thinks that judging from the possible indoctrination of the children, they should be provided sith counsel for them to come back to their senses that if they would want to be responsible citizens in future and take their destinies into their hands then they need education to fulfil such a desire.
We know these institutions have what it takes to reintegrate these innocent minors into society and we count on them to do just that for the children, their community and the larger Ghanaian society.