By Paa Kwesi Schandorf
The Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Ghana, Peter Appiah Turkson, has urged government to institute measures to rid the country’s religious landscape of deceit and criminal elements.
Speaking in an interview on Accra-based Asaase Radio, the religious leader underscored the relevance of churches in nation-building and called on authorities to ensure that the church is devoid of unhealthy norms that undermine its integrity.
He, therefore, tasked the relevant stakeholders to draw inspiration from countries like Rwanda in sanitising the conduct of churches across the country.
« I think probably we can also learn from Rwanda. In the case of Rwanda, the proliferation of all of these churches is also being brought under control; and I think there’s a law in Rwanda that says there are conditions that pastors or church founders must fulfil.
« At least some decent knowledge of the very books that you use for your church service which is the scriptures, this again is some kind of reductionist, reducing religion to just knowledge of the literature of the Bible and whatever, but essentially we need to find a way of curtailing all of these », Cardinal Turkson admonished.
The comments from Peter Appiah Turkson were in connection with a recent directive from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), which barred churches from churning ‘doom prophecies’ during the 2021 watch night services, which could create fear and panic. In this regard, the police warned that « anybody found culpable will be put before the court. »
Following the directive, scores of Christians took to social media to express their views. While some welcomed the idea, a section of the Christian community criticised the IGP, accusing the police hierarchy of overstepping its bounds by trying to regulate ‘spiritual affairs’.
Amongst the dissident voices was the leader and founder of the Prophetic Hill Chapel, Prophet Nigel Gaisie, who pooh-poohed the directive and indicated that he would prophesy publicly regardless of the IGP’s warning.
But speaking on the issue, the Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church lauded the police for the initiative, adding that the church must offer comfort and not fear.
« The end of year moment, you know again is a transition point, and it can be hyped up by a sense of anxiety about the future and all of that, but precisely, this is what is not supposed to be in the church, because the church is the place where people are assured of God’s closeness and presence.
« So people should be encouraged rather to hold the hand of God and hold on to it and step into the future, rather than be thrown into a frenzy of uncertainty, insecurity and therefore fear for which they need somebody to predict the future for them », he stated.