Politics in churches: Clergy warned against double-standard

Isaac Adongo
Isaac Adongo

Aspiring Member of Parliament for Bolga Central, Isaac Adongo, has asked the country’s clergy to first restrain themselves and cease using their pulpits to preach politics before they stop politicians from campaigning in churches.

“I think the first thing is to talk to members of the clergy to show the example that they really don’t want politics in the Churches and we’ll stay away from it,” he said in  response to a Bishop who prevented two politicians from campaigning in his church on Sunday.

The Member of Parliament for Tema East, Daniel Titus- Glover and the Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, Isaac Ashai Odamtten, were disallowed by the Methodist Diocesan Bishop of Tema, Rev. Thomas Brown Forson   from using the pulpit to campaign.

The two had sought an opportunity to to address the Church’s 19th Annual Synod. Although the Bishop was said to have granted them the permission, he prohibited them from speaking on party lines, saying that should not be encouraged considering a lot of politicians would visit the church since we are in a campaign year, the Ghanaian Times reported.

Rev. Forson is reported to have advised the clergy not to allow politicians to use their pulpit to promote themselves.

But speaking on the matter on TV3’s New Day Monday, Mr Adongo said the churches are key stakeholders in the country’s political dispensation, and that for the clergy to debar politicians from using the pulpit to tell the congregation their messages mean the clergy want to monopolise politics.

“I see this also as some kind of difficulty for us because we know the bishops are telling us not to do partisan politics in their church because they are asking us to give them the monopoly of doing the politics themselves,” Mr Adongo said.

He claimed that sermons of some pastors on Sundays are often fraught with nothing than politics, saying ” If you don’t read politically sensitive sermons on a weekend basis, then also we will not be compelled to enter the churches.

“We already have a challenge trusting some of the bishops themselves  not to do politics, not to do divisive politics in their pulpits. I believe that example must come from the leadership of the church,” he indicated.

Mr Adongo argued that the various church groups in the country occasionally issue statements on political happenings hence wondered why the clergy should prevent politicians from using the pulpit to educate the congregation on their policies among other things.

“Why don’t you [the clergy] let the people be educated in your church  in order that they themselves [the clergy] will not have to come out with such statements. I do believe that as a church it’s a key institution that involves all of us  and so whiles we don’t go out there to do politics that divide the people, while we don’t go out there to do politics of insults and we are decorous and we are just preaching alternative policy initiatives that different political parties can bring to bear on the lives of the people, I think it is in order,” he said.

For him, politics in the church is not bad if it is done in a decorous manner, arguing that how the people can access healthcare and potable water, get community schools, and how the vulnerable can get enhanced social protection among other things depends on politics.

“And so, I basically think that politics in the churches in a decorous manner should not be discouraged,” he argued.

Titus-Glover disagress with the Bishop

On his part, Mr Titus-Glover, said although he respects the decision, he disagrees with the Bishop, saying “Sincerely, that is his Church and he calls the shots but for me, I respect his decision but I disagree.

“They take  money from our pockets. When I left, I gave them money but for me to market myself and retain my seat they say no I can’t speak on political issues. At least, to give me the opportunity [to tell them] what I have done as a Member of Parliament for my constituency”.

He said indiscipline has permeated the church lately but it is unfortunate that the church is always blaming politicians for that. Transparency in the handling of funds in the churches, particularly in one-man churches, he said, is a big issue and that it was an opportunity for him to have dealt with all those issues.

“My Bishop, yes he did say that we should not do politics and none of us took any political lines. We spoke so well. We spoke about peace, more about bringing us together particularly on the registration.

“He did not help us to some extent. Now that he’s cautioned us, we’d know the angle at which we’re going to speak ; not to incite the people but to speak with wisdom. At the end of the day when we go back home, you look at yourself” and decided who to vote for.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana
Twitter @steviekgh

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