A former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni–Frimpong, has urged Christian leaders to avoid the tendency of intimidating church members and the public with their spiritual gifts.
Additionally, he admonished Christian congregations to be bold enough to rise against and reject utterances from their leaders that might create divisions among them.
Dr Opuni–Frimpong’s call comes in the wake of the recent sermon by the Founder of the Glorious Wave International Church, Prophet Badu Kobi, that women from certain tribes were unwise and unmarriageable and admonished prospective husbands to avoid marrying from those tribes.
These comments have been condemned by many people who described it as divisive and ethnocentric utterance.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Dr Opuni-Frimpong, who is now a lecturer at the Department of Religious Studies at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said the honour and respect given to Christian leaders such as pastors, bishops, apostles, prophets should not be abused by the leaders to intimidate and subdue church members or the general public.
According to the former General Secretary of the Christian Council, church members held in very high esteem their leaders and so they could hardly question or criticise them, a situation which had the tendency for some leaders to abuse that respect and reverence.
“Riding on vulnerability”
Dr Opuni–Frimpong also disapproved of the prophet’s comments and described it as “extremely dangerous,” stressing that it had the tendency to destroy the respect of human dignity.
The former General Secretary of the Christian Council further explained that most of those leaders rode on the vulnerability of their church members who needed help to tell them things that would make them overawed and thus dependent on them.
“People feel that they need the benefits of the gift of God given to the pastors and so they must do everything to benefit from it, hence some of these abuses and intimidation,” he explained.
That, he said, had the tendency to allow church leaders to make divisive and abusive comments which were not good for the peace and stability of the country.
Additionally, Dr Opuni-Frimpong said such utterances also created divisions among the populace, saying that “such comments tear us apart instead of the church bringing us together”.
He further observed that if the comments made by Prophet Kobi had come from a politician, media or any other personality, there would have been a huge public outcry for the person to even lose his position.
However, because it was coming from a ‘prophet’, church members had applauded him for making those remarks, which was not right, he stressed.
Uphold human dignity
“These prophets and men of God have torn families apart and taken advantage of the vulnerabilities of those who come to them for spiritual guidance to extort money and abused their dignity.
“In the name of being men of God, some pastors have asked people to do all manner of things, including asking them to eat grass, snakes, take concoctions, with others sleeping with married women, all in the name of helping them find solutions to their problems.
“These are not Christ-like and are demeaning to the dignity of humanity contrary to what the Word of God on which these so-called pastors profess to claim their authority, teach,” Dr Opuni-Frimpong lamented.
Review structures needed
To help curb this growing incidents, the former General Secretary of the Christian Council recommended that churches instituted structures which made it possible for Christian leaders to be checked and reviewed.
He also urged the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs to do more to avert such incidents and utterances from being perpetuated.