Parliament is divided over the menace of the fake pastors operating in the country and suggestions that there should be a mechanism to regulate them with the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo Prampram, cautioning Parliament to desist from any moves aimed at passing a legislation to regulate churches in the country.
Samuel Narteh George’s warning, follows calls by some MPs, requesting for a law to be enacted to regulate activities of churches solely owned and run by individuals and self-professed pastors termed as “one-man churches” who are engaging in all sorts of illegalities.
The legislators, argued that there was a need for Parliament to critically investigate the activities of these churches and pastors to protect Ghanaians from exploitation since they are alleged to have been engaging in all manner of unacceptable practices in the country.
They added that a certain level of regulation is required to prevent these churches and pastors from engaging in abuse, indoctrination and other activities that are not in line sound Christian teaching.
The MPs deliberated on the issue following a statement from MP for Mfantseman, Ekow Hayford.
“Mr. Speaker, it is time this House takes a decision to see how best to clamp down on these churches,” the Ablekuma Central Member of Parliament, Ebenezer Nartey said on the Floor of Parliament on Wednesday.
The Member of Parliament for Okaikoi South, Mr Ahmed Arthur argued that although there are some pastors doing well, there other self-professed pastors who are duping unsuspecting individuals in the name of Christianity.
He added that some of these so-called pastors who deceive their members to acquire wealth also own some media companies and abuse other people who disagree with their mode of practice.
“We call them individual churches or one man churches…there are some Churches performing very well…But I also believe that there are churches or people who profess to be pastors for a lack of a better word, misbehaving in this country. You have people who have media and when they are preaching, it is full of insults and abuses of other people.”
“Apart from that, there are people who come to show off what they have. They have been able to deceive their members to give them [money]. I believe that proper regulations should be put in place due to some of these things that we see. That is an affront to religious organisations…The time has come for the nation and Parliament to look into this issue critically.”
But, Sam George who spoke on Eyewitness News, said any attempts to control the activities of religious group will be an affront to biblical teachings and the basic freedoms of the Ghanaian.
He, therefore, wants Parliament to adopt a more workable solution with the leadership of the various church groups in that regard.
“The constitution states that everybody will have the freedom of religion and so I don’t know how you may want to regulate freedom. You cannot legislate on the Holy Spirit. I admit that there are few charlatans who are abusing the altar. But the church and religious organizations are already regulated in this country. We have the Christian Council, Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches.”
“What we can do as a state is to collaborate with the leadership of these churches. They have even said that what they want parliament to do is to strengthen these organizations and make it mandatory for every church to come under the umbrella of one of these recognized bodies. Parliament and the state should tread cautiously as issues of faith cannot be legislated even with logic”, he added.
Meanwhile, the founder and Leader of Glorious Word Power Ministry International, Reverend Isaac OwusuBempah, has reacted to Members of Ghanaian Parliament’s call for action against pastors and churches preying on the gullibility of the public.
According to Rev Bempah, the generalisation of the activities of the pastors and churches is wrong because some pastors have and are still contributing to the development of the county.
“I think an action to sanitize the pastoral front is not a bad idea but the MPs must not generalize and add good pastors like myself to it.
Rev Bempah, however, agrees that some of his colleagues are fake and are using the bible to dupe people.
Speaking to Neat FM said he agreed with the state stepping in with legislation to clamp down on abuses of congregants, especially by ‘one-man’ churches.
“There are big churches in the country who have made a great impact on the country. I know Nana Addo has pastors at heart and won’t allow MPs to descend on pastors,” Rev Bempah noted.
Rev Bempah rather advised the MPs to go after pastors who are deceiving and exploiting the vulnerabilities of their unsuspecting congregation.