Saturday, 26 September

Don't go down in history as the President who persecuted the Church – 670 Pastors to Akufo-Addo

Politics
President Nana Akufo-Addo

The persecution of the church and its clergy could be one of the legacies of President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government, the Association of Pentecostal and Charismatic Clergy (APCC), which is made up of 670 pastors across Ghana, has said.

APCC said in a statement signed by its General Secretary Rev John Armah that since Mr Akufo-Addo took office, the Christian church and clergy have not known peace.

“Never have we seen, in the history of Ghana, a government launch a sustained campaign and attack on the body of Christ”, the statement said, explaining: “It would not be in error to call this a government-sponsored attack on the Church considering the fact that the vitriol started with a presidential staffer, then an NPP Member of Parliament and recently the NPP’s Ashanti regional chairman”.

“These have been encored by the government’s legion of social media commentators repeating these attacks”, the statement, which is dated 4 August 2020, noted.

In the pastors’ view, even though Ghana is a country made up of about 70 per cent Christians, and, thus, “one would have thought that any government that really seeks to develop this country will do so in tandem with the church”, “unfortunately, for almost 4 years, the church had faced stiff opposition from this government”.

APCC chronicled the following to make its point: “One of the first things this government did after coming into power was to pursue almost every influential man of God in this nation. Strange and unimaginable inquisitions of Reverend Ministers and Bishops were vigorously pursued”.

“That was the initial attempt to seek to get ‘dirt’ on them and eventually use it as a point to blackmail them if they should dare speak up at any point”, it claimed.

“The next phase of the attack on the Church was a scathing crusade by Hon Ken Agyapong against so-called false prophets. The entire agenda, according to the Member of Parliament, was to expose the ills of the church.

“Obviously, the Church, as an institution, is not infallible and without fault. Some people seeing beyond the supposed intention of the MP indicated that the initial victims of the crusade were not the ultimate targets and that the actual targets were the pastors of the mega churches who had lots of followings and influence within and outside Ghana.

“The Pentecostal and Charismatic clergy, with its strong influence in the country, was the target.

“The goal was to silence the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement from any possible critique of government”, APCC asserted.

The group then zeroed in on the recent attacks on the founder of Perez Chapel International, Bishop Charles Agyinasare, to further drive home its point.

“Recently, there has been a calculated state-sponsored attack on one of Ghana’s revered and finest Bishops – Bishop Charles Agyinasare. His offence was that he dared to ask a question in one of his sermons about the supposed financial sector cleanup. He asked, among others things, if ‘for some of the collapsed banks, could nothing have been done to save them from collapsing?’ The government’s communication machinery descended heavily on him with unprintable insults, threats and attacks”.

“As a follow up to this, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), which is made up of about 30% of the population of Ghana, issued a strongly-worded statement to tell political leaders to call their people to order.

“Sadly, though, the leader of the ruling government, who is also the President of the Republic, turned a deaf ear to this call. On the contrary, a day after the GPCC statement, a sitting Member of Parliament, Hon Ken Agyapong called the bluff of the GPCC and launched the most blistering attack yet on the Bishop”, the group complained.

Read APCC’s full statement below:

4TH August 2020

PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH WILL BE ONE OF YOUR LEGACIES

Never have we seen in the history of Ghana, a government launch a sustained campaign and attack on the body of Christ.

It would not be in error to call this a government-sponsored attack on the Church considering the fact that the vitriol started with a presidential staffer then an NPP Member of Parliament and recently the NPP Ashanti regional chairman to mention a few affiliated persons.

These have been encored by the government’s legion of social media commentators repeating these attacks.

In the not-so-distant past, Ghana was known to be a very free and open country. A country that could pride itself with the ability of its citizens to live together peacefully irrespective of their tribe, ethnicity, religion or creed.

As a matter of fact, Ghana had become a shining example of political, tribal and religious tolerance on the continent of Africa.

However, happenings over the past few years, make it difficult for our nation to still boast of those accolades of tolerance. Intolerance and an almost violent clampdown on dissenting opinion has become the new normal.

We have taken a slippery slope down the road of intolerance on all fronts. We are becoming a nation that cannot accept divergent views and opinions.

A political class has emerged that believes that the right to act and speak on national issues is solely their preserve.

We are gradually becoming bigoted to the extent that any commentary that expresses views contrary to that of the government is considered anti-government and one seeking to tarnish the reputation of the government – even if true.

In most developed societies, religion and religious leaders have been one of the major agents of development. In our dear country, churches have been a great agent of development for many years.

The Church has been very influential in all aspects of our national development, including education, health, economy, security, social welfare and infrastructure to mention but a few.

As a nation that has over 70% of its citizens being Christians, one would have thought that any government that really seeks to develop this country will do so in tandem with the church.

Unfortunately, for almost 4 years, the church had faced stiff opposition from this government.

One of the first things this government did after coming into power was to pursue almost every influential Man of God in this nation. Strange and unimaginable inquisitions of Reverend Ministers and Bishops were vigorously pursued.

That was the initial attempt to seek to get ‘dirt’ of them and eventually use it as a point to blackmail them if they should dare speak up at any point.

The next phase of the attack on the Church was a scathing crusade by Hon Ken Agyapong against so-called false prophets. The entire agenda, according to the Member of Parliament, was to expose the ills of the church.

Obviously, the Church, as an institution, is not infallible and without fault. Some people seeing beyond the supposed intention of the MP indicated that the initial victims of the crusade were not the ultimate targets and that the actual targets were the pastors of the mega-churches who had lots of followings and influence within and outside Ghana.

The Pentecostal and Charismatic clergy, with its strong influence in the country, was the target.

The goal was to silence the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement from any possible critique of government.

Fast forward, the current state of affairs points to an unwritten decree and rule in Ghana that no one, be you a professional in your field of endeavour or a Pastor, big or small, must say anything that disagrees with the government or the current ruling political class.

This muzzling of free speech and opinion and a subtle attempt at censoring the Clergy must be resisted with righteous indignation.

Recently, there has been a calculated state-sponsored attack on one of Ghana’s revered and finest Bishops – Bishop Charles Agyinasare.

His offence was he dared to ask a question in one of his sermons about the supposed financial sector cleanup.

He asked if “for some of the collapsed banks, could nothing have been done to save them from collapsing?” This, he asked amongst other things.

The government’s communication machinery descended heavily on him with unprintable insults, threats and attacks.

As a follow up to this, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), which is made up of about 30% of the population of Ghana, issued a strongly-worded statement to tell political leaders to call their people to order.

Sadly, though, the leader of the ruling government, who is also the President of the Republic, turned a deaf ear to this call.

On the contrary, a day after the GPCC statement, a sitting Member of Parliament, Hon Ken Agyapong called the bluff of the GPCC and launched the most blistering attack yet on the Bishop.

Let it be known that the Bishop, we know, would not be deterred. He would not be intimidated by false accusations and lies peddled to denigrate his impeccable reputation.

That agenda has failed from the start. It is also recalled that, during the lockdown period, a Pastor, who was found holding a church service with less than thirty of his members, was quickly arraigned and sentenced together with some of his Church Elders for 4 years.

Shortly after that, during the ruling NPP’s internal elections, all the COVID-19 protocols contained in the Executive Instrument were flouted with gross impunity on live TV across the nation. No one was arrested, questioned or imprisoned!

It took the President over a week to make a comment about the incident. It is obvious that there is a calculated attempt to silence the Church in Ghana. Our current government believes that a silent church will be advantageous to their cause.

Indeed, a host of Ken Agyapong’s TV programme, on several occasions, rained insults and invectives on Christian leaders and pastors. He called them out by name and cursed and abused them on national television.

Some of these Clergymen have been in ministry for 25, 30, 40 years and over.

The NPP MP’s television show actually suggested the possibility of closing down charismatic churches.

The persecution of the Church is no more what we used to read about in Maiduguri, China and the Middle East, the persecution of Christian leaders is right here with us – in Ghana.

If you are a Christian, a Pastor, a Bishop in Ghana, especially of the Pentecostal or Charismatic persuasion, you must understand this once and for all, the church persecution has started.

And it is definitely going to get worse if we do not rise up and speak even as we pray. Never in the history of Ghana have we ever experienced a direct and targeted crusade against Christian leaders by a particular government like we have it today.

In the midst of all these attacks, I urge the members of this government and their agents to read what was said to Saul when he set out to fight and persecute the church in the Book of Acts Chapter Acts 9:5: “And he said, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

The Association of Pentecostal and Charismatic Clergy have taken inspiration from the crusade embarked upon by Bishop Charles Agyinasare’s recent campaign and teachings on national transformation, calling on political leaders to give us a civil service devoid of partisan politics and a nation that eschews corrupt practices and reckless borrowing etc.

Mr President, with your over 70 years on earth, I am sure you’ve read enough history to the effect that all those who persecuted the church never succeeded. I will, therefore, urge you to put an immediate end to this persecution and call your people to order.

Mr President, under your predecessor, one of his appointees spoke against the Head of the Presbyterian Church. What we saw in that instance was that he, the President, had gone to apologise to the clergyman.

Mr President, a good name is better than riches. At birth, there was a Pastor who dedicated you to God and when your time on earth is done, there will be a Pastor to lay you to rest.

Please do not go down in history as the President under whose term the Church and Pastors were persecuted.

To all those who think that, well, this is an attack on the Church and you cannot be bothered, I leave you with this quote from a German Priest, Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984): “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

Rev. John Armah

General Secretary

 

Source: Classfmonline.com