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Arthur Kobina Kennedy
During the 1992 US Presidential campaign, there was a debate between the Bush and Clinton campaigns about morality and ethics in leaders. The Republicans projected President Bush as a moral man, upright, religious and patriotic. A man who was in effect “a better man” in the eyes of God than his opponent, Bill Clinton, who had been plagued by allegations of infedilities, draft-dodging and corrupt land deals. Mr. Clinton and the Democrats countered that faith was not just personal. They argued that while having a nice family life devoid of scandal mattered, other things mattered too. They insisted that being willing to fight for better schools, healthcare and housing for the poor was perhaps, a better manifestation of a person’s faith than fedility to his wife and having a nice family. That argument echoed the liberation theologians that “God is on the side of the poor”.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has pledged to build a National Cathedral to honour God for his victory in 2016. There is nothing wrong with that pledge or the pledge to “protect the public purse”. In the last week, in has come to light that contrary to the President’s pledge to have this Cathedral built with private funds, significant public expenditures have been made in relation to the project. In response to concerns raised, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta has urged Ghanaians not to “snuff out our religiousness or spirituality because we are poor”. Now doesn’t the Bible enjoin us to be truthful? Does John 8:32 not state, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”? How does lying to Parliament and the public enhance our spirituality?
As to the more substantive question of using public resources to fulfill a private pledge to honour God, it does not sit well with me and it should not sit well with any person of faith.
The Bible says, in Matthew 25:40, “And the king will say, “I tell you the truth that when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers you were doing it to me.” How do we justify using the resources of a country that has children schooling under trees, the sick lacking in hospital beds and underpaid teachers to build a Cathedral to God?
It appears to me that fighting corruption, building schools, building hospitals and returning unjustified ex-gratia to the public purse would do more to enhance our spirituality–anaa?
The use of public funds to build a National Cathedral in a nation which needs so much, in my view, smacks of “Phariseeism”!
Let the eminent members of the infamous board of of this mis-conceived National Cathedral wake up to their divine calling and speak truth–to power and to our country.
Let the faithful say, “Amen”. Those who stay silent in the face of evil are complicit. May God bless Ghana.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
14th June, 2022.