There have been raging debates on social media for sometime now about whether men and women of God should be criticised for their actions and the consequences of their actions.
As one would expect, the jury is out there. There is a school of thought that has cautioned everyone to be careful “not to touch God’s anointed”.
They also argue that a man or woman of God who has done anything untoward should be left to the wrath of God. Case close.
Then there is of course an extremist faction gloating and arguing with glee that a preacher who has been implicated in some mishap must be taken to the cleaners.
More specifically – in the collapse of a bank. Some have gone as far as calling names and drawing conclusion which may be said to be hasty.
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But let’s take a step back and examine the “touch not God’s anointed” argument.
For starters, I doubt if those who make the “touch not God’s anointed” argument will go as far as saying that the ecclesiastical class are being persecuted or taunted when they are subjected to civil and criminal laws of the country. Far from it.
They are beneficiaries of the justice system as so many cases have been resolved in their favour by the courts.
Churches have referred persons who have acted inappropriately to the justice system. So clearly, it cannot be the case that there is anything inherently unjust about the court system.
The main concern of the ecclesiastical class and their followers have been the so called attacks on the integrity of one of their own.
According to them, there is an orchestrated attempt to tarnish the image of Pastor Mensa Otabil; and statements of different shades and forms have been released in response to these attacks.
I can frankly feel their pain. It is a painful thing to see someone that you hold in high esteem being attacked and subjected to criticism. It is a normal human reaction.
What people forget in all of these is that people don’t give up on people that easily.
And that irrespective of the degree of fault, people will explore all possibilities to totally exculpate themselves from a situation or at the very least minimise the effect of a situation.
So it is a natural thing for persons to follow and defend a particular preacher.
That is their constitutional right.
Sometimes support does not amount to an endorsement.
It is fairly common to see a relative of a murder suspect in search of a lawyer for an incarcerated relative not because they believe that their relative is innocent but simply because they have to be seen doing something.
It is simply human nature.
I don’t think religious persons should be given special privileges just because they are religious persons.
Far from it.
If they enter into the temporal realm and conduct themselves in a particular manner, it is fair that they should be made to live up to the consequences of their action. Case close.
If they are operating within the spiritual realm and they misconduct themselves, then it is right that God deals with them.
An apt analogy can be found under international law.
A diplomat enjoys a wide array of privileges and immunities under international law.
The privilege the diplomat enjoys is considered as a spin-off from the sovereign immunity that a foreign state enjoys – including immunity from criminal prosecutions and being compelled to appear in court as a witness.
But the privileges and immunities have limits. A diplomat can waive his diplomatic immunity through his own actions.
If the diplomat for instance goes out of his way to engage in a commercial activity, that diplomat is liable for the consequences that may arise out of the commercial transaction.
Are there any lessons to be learnt from the recent developments? Absolutely yes.
First, the fact that a person has been mentioned in a particular case does not meant he or she is guilty.
Second, even if the person is guilty, the fact of guilt does not mean that the person should be opened up to insults of all kind.
Thirdly, those who attack the image and reputation of person should be prepared for a response.
And fourthly, it is only fair game that a person who engages in matters of public interest (and businesses that effect a lot of people) should be subject to public scrutiny.
If persons within the ecclesiastical class feel over and above the law, then it may be in their interest to simply focus on their religious duties and obligations.
That way, they avoid any encounter with the law. But if they feel that they must be involved in public affairs, then it is important that they understand that they must be open to public scrutiny and accountability.