LEGISLATION TO REGULATE CHURCHES
Over the last few days, we, the Ghana Charismatic Bishops conference, have noted with concern the discussions suggesting the introduction of legislation to “control self-styled pastors, pastors and churches”. Members of Parliament have proposed coming up with a law that allows the State to clamp down on ‘abuse of congregants’ by the so-called men of God.
We, the Ghana Charismatic Bishops’ Conference, will like to state that we do not support any idea of legislating or controlling beliefs, faiths or religious beliefs of our citizens. Our position on this discussion is informed by the following:
- The Government cannot legislate to regulate a person’s Christian belief. It would be a glaring bias against the Christian faith and Christian churches for pastors, prophets or churches to be picked out for any such legislation. All who propose such things must know that it would only be logical, that such proposals should immediately include legislating how all other faiths in the country must be practiced. This legislation would logically extend to include how Moslems, traditional healers, fetish priests and any other faiths are being practiced in the country.
- Ghanaians, we suggest, should be allowed and encouraged to use their good judgment when they patronize churches and prophets.
- It must be acknowledged that Ghanaians are patronizing churches and prophets for solutions to the myriad of problems in our nation today. The problems Ghanaians live with are in many cases not being solved in any practical manner by the authorities. When people are left with no hope they turn to their prophets and to their God for salvation for what should and could have been solved by national authorities.
- Churches and prophets who rise up in Ghana may be despised today but may grow up to become national institutions tomorrow. In recent years we have seen some “despised churches” rise up and become the centre of Christianity in the country and on the continent.
- The PNDC Law 221 was promulgated to such ends with a mind to regulate the proliferation of churches. Under the PNDC law 221 every church was to produce a list of 500 members otherwise it would not be allowed to operate because it was considered too small to be genuine. Such a law (which did not succeed) against the church would have wiped out all the known charismatic churches which were just beginning at that time. Indeed, Churches which are prominent in Christianity in Ghana today were threatened by such ill placed legislation.
- We will encourage Parliament to kindly, rather pay attention to the issues that Ghanaians are forced to have to solve by prayer. We suggest the parliament attend to the pressing issues in Ghana such as:
- The absence of good roads across the nation and the terrible accidents which occur because of our very poor narrow roads and highways. Legislation about the poor drainage and serious flooding are of great concern to our nation today.
- The decline of the quality of education in the country. Let us rather legislate about the widespread and perennial leakage of exam papers in the nation that characterize Ghanaian education today.
- Let us concern ourselves with curbing the epidemic of armed robberies and murder in the country.
- The government should see to the new hospitals like the Legon Hospital , that stand unused and deteriorating , the poor health care situation in the public hospitals where patients have to bring in their own private nurses to look after patients
- Let us concern ourselves with legislation about the uncompleted and abandoned building and housing projects scattered all over the nation
- There are also serious concerns about the spread of slums in Accra and huge rubbish dumps in the city. Laws to regulate the spread of these slums in the city would be most appreciated.
- Indeed, any attempt to regulate or determine who and what is acceptable in Christianity or in the church would be considered as a declaration of hostilities between the Church of God in Ghana and the Government of Ghana. This we don’t think would be helpful for our beloved nation.
viii. May God bless our nation and make us great and strong. Thank you.