Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Cynthia Morrison
Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Cynthia Morrison

Cameron Duodu writes: On evil consequences of religious mania

No sane person can take a stick or heavy iron instrument and hit a 90-year-old woman with it till she dies. However, in the ‘civilised’ society in which we live, no person can be described as ‘mad’ unless a trained psychiatrist has certified the person to be so.

So, a person can kill a 90-year-old woman, or in another case, a 72-year-old woman and be treated as a normal ‘suspect’, with bail facilities, as determined by the law enforcement agencies.

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We never pause to ask how the decision of the law enforcement agencies is arrived at. In the case of the 72-year-old woman, Madam Ama Hemma, for example, members of her family have been waiting for the past 10 years for justice to be done for her.

Yet, her tragic case was prominently displayed on the front page of the Daily Graphic.

Maybe the family of Madam Denteh, who was unfortunate enough to be similarly murdered at Kafaba, in Eastern Gonja, may fare a little better at the hands of the law.

But don't count on it. For the law enforcement section of Ghana's administrative structure is one of the least responsive to public opinion imaginable.

Worrying

The treatment of alleged ‘witches’ in our society is, of course, a very complex issue. Does the acceptance by many of us of Christianity, Islam and other religions that abhor the existence of ‘demons’, insidiously tie the hands of our law enforcement agencies?

Police and judicial officers do take a solemn oath to treat all citizens as equal before the law. Which means that the treatment of Madam Amma Hemma’s case should have no place in our law enforcement history.

The confusion between ensuring the public good and condoning unclassified ‘vigilantism’ was detected by the British, who enacted a law against ‘hunting’ for witches. A book has been written about this entitled Witchcraft in Ghana.

Yet people still ask: “A 90-year-old woman? Why is she still alive?”

Asking such irrelevant and, indeed, godless questions is only one step away from triggering brutal actions that can lead to the death of another human being. Between the 90-year-old and the 50-year-old, who has a better claim to having been “blessed by God with a longer life”?

It’s ungodly

If God has ordered us, as we read in the Bible, to “honour thy father and thy mother” so that “thy days may be long in the land which The Lord thy father has given thee”, how would He think that someone was doing His ‘work’ by bludgeoning a helpless 90-year-old person to death?

And it's about time our hypocritical Ghanaian society wakes up to denounce and punish those who do not care to read the Bible or the Koran with any depth, but who apply passages from the holy books out of context, to end the precious lives of their fellow citizens?

Look at Boko Haram in Nigeria. How could The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) countenance the abduction and mass raping of 200 young schoolgirls, as happened at Chibok in April 2014?

Elementary

A major reason why certain people who profess to be believers in God's word often fall down heavily when it comes to actually practising religion is that they don't observe the most elementary precepts of their own religion.

For instance, Jesus preached “love thy neighbour as thyself” and strongly advised His followers to “do unto others”, what they wanted others to do unto them. Yet we see so-called ‘prophets’ with a large following, kicking pregnant women in the stomach, or mercilessly whipping young people in public. And media outlets continue to fall over themselves giving publicity to the ‘snake oil’ these false prophets advertise and sell.

Indifference to other people's feelings among religious adherents is, of course, not new. When I was attending primary school, our Presbyterian-trained teachers often loaded a lot of Bible studies and hymn-singing into our time-table.

Well, one day, we were asked by the teacher to close our eyes and engage in ‘silent prayer’. Everything went very quiet as a result. Then, all of a sudden, we heard a loud voice shout in the Akuapem dialect:

Me nkrɔfo!

Me nkrɔfo!

Montie m'!”

The unexpected explosion of the voice and the unfamiliar ‘Biblical’ Akuapem accent (we spoke Akyem Twi) convinced everyone that it was God Himself who was speaking! And we fled!

We learnt later, when we were safely outside, that one boy had joined a Pentecostal or Apostolic Church and was exhibiting to us, the practice of ‘speaking in tongues!’

Do you think that the boy who spoke with the ‘Voice of God’ cared about the effect of his ‘miracle’ on the rest of us?

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