Coming from a Christian based family, and having been raised as a Christian, I will continue to defend and promote my religion taking into consideration the need to respect the religious beliefs of others.
I have always felt proud of my religious beliefs and practices as a Christian. And while I will continue to defend and promote my Christian beliefs, values, practices and traditions, it is equally important not to not shy away from pointing out shortfalls or gaps in behaviours which are unchristian of the leadership of the Christian fraternity in Ghana. In Ghana, many Christians consider it as unchristian and a sin to God if the church or its leadership is criticized. It is believed that there are severe consequences if one speaks against the church or a man of God or men of God.
This culture has obviously made it difficult to exercise reason in constructively criticizing the church or men of God when one even disagrees with them or when they are on the wrong side of the law; whether biblical laws or societal laws. What the church or man of God says is final. The Bible has been used as a cloak by some men of God to suppress people and perpetuate injustice in society.
I pondered deeply before writing and putting out this response to the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) knowing very well that the Council has a large number of churches with millions of church members. Woe unto anyone who openly disagrees with the CCG, for some of its members may invoke divine curses on you. But if constructively responding to the CCG not only as a Christian based organization, but an important stakeholder in our democracy will lead me to hell, then I am happy to even become the gateman in hell who will open wide the gate for others who will stand up and speak truth to power.
I have read a letter signed by the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) – Rev. Dr. Cyril Fayose which was addressed to all member churches of the CCG titled: APPEAL FOR PEACE AND UNITY AFTER THE DECLARATION OF THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION. In summary, the letter conveyed the following message:
An appeal to all Ghanaians to maintain peace and calm of the country after the declaration of the Presidential results.
An appeal for the moderate and decorous celebration by supporters of the winning candidate. An appeal was also made to supporters of the losing candidate to be gracious and exercise self-restraint.
Finally, the CCG entreated all pastors to use Sunday, December 13, 2020, to thank the Almighty God for the peaceful elections organized and to preach unity among the people of Ghana. The letter also referenced to the Directive Principles of State Policy and called for prayers for the establishment of a united “just and free society”.
While I may commend the CCG in appealing to Ghanaians to maintain peace and calm, I also find it very disappointing that the CCG has clearly and insensitively failed to condemn the acts of violence and political thuggery that characterized the election in some parts of the country which even sadly resulted not only in the death of people but also others getting maimed. It is important to point out that the CCG in its letter admittedly noted with concern growing tensions in some parts of the county, and how these have the tendency to disturb the peace and unity of our country. However, the CCG didn’t only fail to condemn the electoral violence and use of needless visceral military might suppress and intimidate people, but as well, the Council also failed to call on the Government of Ghana to initiate an investigation into these electoral atrocities.
Surprisingly, the CCG is preaching peace without advocating for justice. The CCG so far has insensitively failed to show concern for the lives lost. It has also failed to sympathize with families that have lost their loved ones as a result of the violence. Or by its action, the CCG may want us to believe that God does not care about victims of electoral violence? I am least surprised by this attitude exhibited by the CCG taking into consideration their continuous recent loud silence in worrisome matters of the state of affairs in this country.
The electoral process of voting is equally important as the outcome of the process. However, it is disappointing to know that throughout the electoral process of voting, the CCG was deaf and blind to the many atrocities and election irregularities that characterized the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
Even after the elections and declaration of results, there have been reports of extremely violent attacks on people including some Members of Parliament-elect. I am therefore surprised to know that the CCG has all of a sudden miraculously regained its voice, activated its moral conscience and has now realized its role and place in our democratic and peacebuilding architecture. When we the citizens of our beloved Republic needed the CCG most and looked up to it in times of political intimidation and avoidable electoral violence, the CCG failed to be there for us.
Simply, it is needless to equalize right and wrong in the pursuit of peace and justice. There is no middle or neutral ground for actors in the enterprise of promoting peace and justice. Without taking sides, right and wrong must be pointed out to people no matter who it affects. The display of pretence, neutrality and silence in moments when wrong is occasioned does not promote peace and deliver justice. This does not only, unfortunately, embolden people on the wrong side of the law to carry on with their wrongful acts, but as well, it encourages victims of wrongful acts to fight and defend themselves. And this is where peace may become difficult to achieve. Adopting a neutral position when wrong occurs is the same as an endorsement of the wrong. Worryingly, the CCG is fast becoming noted for this. When some of us or all of us get killed and others become maimed, who will worship in the National Cathedral when it is finally built?
As a young Ghanaian, I am very concerned that the largest opposition party have rejected the outcome of the recently held elections citing some electoral malpractices. Despite the democratic and constitutional avenues available in addressing these electoral disagreements, I am caged by the fear of the unknown considering the seeming erosion of public trust and confidence in our state institutions by a large majority of our fellow countrymen and women.
And for me, this is where many of us look up to religious organizations like the CCG to engage with all relevant stakeholders so as to ensure that everyone becomes satisfied with the electoral outcome with the amicable resolution of disputes. Unfortunately, the letter by the CCG was silent and has failed to acknowledge the current electoral disagreement which has the propensity to deepen the very tension the CCG seeks to help to avoid, through its appeal to Ghanaians to maintain peace and calm.
The letter by the CCG calls on its members some of whom may have some reservations and even disagree with the electoral outcome to just accept the outcome of the elections all in the name of promoting peace and unity. This is an easy, cheap and crooked way of enhancing and consolidating democracy while unresolved issues are swept under the carpet.
Whether material or immaterial, the disco light changing of statistical figures or computational errors of declared presidential results by the Electoral Commission is deeply worrying and may rather fuel suspicion of electoral theft of results leading to tension. And for the CCG to be blind and deaf to this is unreservedly surprising and duplicitous. As believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to uphold the truth always no matter the consequences, in order to be and remain as the light of the world.
As it has been written in Matthew 5:14-16; I call on the CCG to be that town built on a hill that cannot be hidden. The CCG should not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. The CCG should let its light shine before others so that people may see the good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.
Finally, the CCG per its letter entreats all pastors to thank the Lord for the peaceful elections held and to also preach unity among its people on December 13th, 2020. I also want to add to this request that, may all fellow believers also pray for the leadership of the Church in Ghana to “live pure, speak true, right wrong and follow the King” (motto of Wesley Girls Senior High School).
This article is written by Horlali Yaw Haligah, [email protected], 0249307716.