Ghana: Parliament Bares Teeth At ‘One Man Churches’

Members of Parliament have descended heavily on ‘one man’ churches labelling their activities as nuisance to people in areas they operate in and a prey on the vulnerability of their members.

In the view of the lawmakers, it was time the state stepped in with a legislation to clamp down on what they consider to be an abuse of congregants under the clog of religion.

The lawmakers were commenting on a statement made by Member for Mfantseman, Ekow Kwansah Hayford who despite recognising constitutional provisions which guarantee the right to worship said, the state must step in with the institution of an independent body to regulate activities of errant churches.

According to the Mfantseman lawmaker, research shows that there were more than 10,000 faith based organisations with allegiance to Christianity.

The growing of Christian religious bodies, he said, had attracted “charlatans and imposters who parade on the street and fill our media space peddling their false wares to unsuspecting Ghanaians.”

Noting that the situation was a sad reflection of the state of the country in terms of human right abuses, Mr Hayford said it was the “sacred duty of the state to protect the vulnerable from being exploited for the benefit of a few people.

“It is imperative that we consider setting up an independent body devoid of politics and empower them to regulate the activities of the Church.”

Commenting on the statement, MP for Ablekuma Central, Ebenezer Nartey, said the action of such errant Churches and their leaders was bringing the name of Christianity into disrepute.

Sharing his experience with some of such Churches in his area, the first term legislator said Friday nights have almost become days for compulsory wake keeping because the usual Friday night services virtually keeps everyone awake.

He said apart from having nothing to show for their existence as expected of social and religious entities in society, the churches extort money from their members to live extravagant lives.

This, he said, was an abuse of religiously vulnerable people whose lives have become dependent on the direction of their ‘so called’ spiritual leaders as he threw his weight behind calls for regulation of churches.

The Member for Ningo Prampram, Sam Nartey George, on his part said in as much as there were some undesiring elements within the religious space in the country, there was the need to tread cautiously in order not to infringe on the right to worship of people.

He commended the traditional orthodox churches for self-regulating themselves and asked that state power was added to the self-regulation for sanity to prevail in the religious space.

A Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, though not entirely for legislation to regulate the religious space, noted that there were charlatans specialised in single chapters whose operations do not augur well for Christendom.

The Banda MP said “well organised churches behave and are well regulated” adding that “some of the things happening today are only in fulfillment of the prophesy of the bible.”

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who was all for the legislation said some preachers holding themselves as such do not qualify to be called same because “even Jesus trained his disciples for three years.”

He said it was not lost on him as to how critical Christendom has been to the social and moral fabric of the society but the actions of the latter day preachers were affecting the religion hence the need for regulation for the chaff to be separated from the wheat.

Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye who believes church services on working hours must be banned directed the Committees on Youth, Sports and Culture and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to delve into the matter and report back to the house in a month.

In a related development, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) has welcomed the move, describing it as prudent, provided the regulation would lead to change.

However, according to the General Secretary of the Council, Rev. Emmanuel Barigah, the theological society should be made to lead the process by providing proposals on how it should be done for Parliament to endorse and ensure compliance.

“We are very important stakeholders in this matter and as a nation. The constitution grants us the freedom of worship and the freedom of association and all that, so in order for it not to look like the government is clamping on those rights”.

“The theological body should be allowed to take the lead, bring up suggestions and make proposals as to how we could do that effectively so that it would not look as if the human rights of people are being trampled upon,” he told Accra-based Starr FM.

Founder and leader of Glorious Word Power Ministry International, Rev. Isaac Owusu Bempah, also endorsed the legislation but averred that the generalisation of the activities of the pastors and churches was wrong.

This he explained to Accra-based Neat FM that although some of his colleagues were fake and using the bible to dupe people, others were genuine and contributing to the development of the county.

“I think an action to sanitise the pastoral front is not a bad idea but the MPs must not generalise and add good pastors like myself to it.


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Publish date : 2019-05-31 10:01:18

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