Are we driving into spiritual and moral bankruptcy?
The tragic news of bloodshed during the Easter season this year got many in tears.
Far from being the memorial of the symbolic death of the world’s most popular religious leader, Jesus Christ, Ghanaians woke up to the heartbreaking bulletin of the murder of a 10-year old boy at Kasoa for ritual money. The culprits were two teenagers who were his playmates.
Re-writing the scripts of that incident is traumatizing but to think that a 15-year old and 17-year old found it easy to violently hit their peer to death and subsequently plan the harvest of his body parts for rituals is heart-breaking.
But it is not the first time this is coming up. A few years ago, another teenager, 17-year old, allegedly tried to kill his mother. He told police investigators that “I’m badly in money.” This is a teenager who has no responsibilities, no bills to pay or whatsoever. The juju man rather alerted the police to arrest him.
The brutal murder of the youngster has put the media on trial for allowing charlatans, including fake mallams and pastors, magicians, and money doublers on their radio and television channels.
Rightly so, the blame on the media is well deserved. Some of our television stations these days have become platforms for unbridled grooming of a greedy and lazy generation who worship wealth without knowing its source.
Terribly have we been at copying western concepts of democracy which includes freedom of speech without applying the breaks called regulations. In our context, there have been countless incidents that have proven that ‘free media’ is nothing more than a romantic idea of those who imagine that by liberalizing the airwaves, we would have broken the back of the culture of silence and encourage media pluralism without any responsibility towards the audience.
It is the reason the National Media Commission can afford to say that it is constitutionally handcuffed from directing some of the irresponsible media houses not to broadcast what can be considered a poison to the mind.
So, in the end, occultist, magicians and many other dubious characters have taken our screens hostage. So far as they can pay for the airtime, their content won’t matter. Our children are consuming toxic contents that are destroying their minds and turning them into zombies.
Whether we like it or not, in our world today, apart from the family, the media whether social or traditional is an agent of socialisation. We can’t pretend that the contents all the contents on our television stations tick the boxes of free speech and we are constitutionally restrained from taking action. It must have limits. Even in the United States the citadel of free speech there are limits to what can be screened on free-to-air television.
In all these, we often blame the politicians for our woes, failures, disappoints and moral and spiritual decay. While we blame politicians for almost every problem in this country, we must also be concerned about our pulpits, and what they are being used for.
In the days of yore, the pulpit was a revered space for preaching law and gospel and helping people to understand and read God’s word, but now the compass has shifted as some of our so-called pastors have turned the sacred ministries into money-printing avenues popularly known as ‘prosperity gospel or pray for me” as well as political bootlicking.
Most of the pastors have turned their churches into political parties. It is time they register their churches with Registrar General as political parties. For someone who has worn the clerical collar for more than fifty years, I’m also appalled by the partisan politics that has enveloped the church in Ghana. It has contributed to the culture of silence on the pulpit which should ideally be the moral compass of our country. Some of our religious leaders are fast outdoing each other to be relevant to the political elites. Have you heard anyone with bread in his mouth talking? No!
Proof that religion is a booming business and political in Ghana can be found in the increasing number of billboards advertising kaleidoscope of temples and tabernacles promising career success, wealth, status in society, good marriages and problem-free visa acquisition.
Some of the churches interpret religious doctrines far more flexible than the traditional Christianity that was first introduced by the Europeans.
Their trade in stock is faith-based healing and, sometimes, magic which preys upon the gullibility of their wealthier followers and the desperation of the poor.
The messages of healing, miracles and prosperity easily find sympathetic echoes among a populace down on the economic ladder.
Apart from some of our pastors turning their churches into money-printing machines and partisan politics, I equally get worried about parents putting financial pressure on their female wards. While leading the Christian Council some years back, I was appalled to learn that there were parents who by their actions encouraged their female children to go into prostitution. When it came to our attention, we tried to counsel those parents into recognizing the destructive paths, they were walking their children, the feedback was direct “mind your business.”
Little wonder that armed robbery, sakawa, petty thievery, and many social vices are on the rise in Ghana.
Our country is in the throes of social vices. The time to redeem it and use our media platforms to empower our population for greatness is now. The church has a role in doing that. So do the government, regulators and parents. No excuse is acceptable…
The author is a former Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana and the President-General of the West Africa Nobles Forum