‘The religion industrial complex’

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  • Blessing or curse for Africa?
Is religion a blessing or a curse?
  • Blessing or curse for Africa?

Have you noticed that in lieu of any firm commitment from many people, they’d say “Se Nyame boa a”? [In Akan, If God is willing …] As clear as daylight, their resolve to perform may be shaky, and the intent unreliable – so why do they culturally and habitually use God’s name in vain?

On yet another occasion, you may be told this: “God willing, I’d be there between 8 am and 9 am”. Then your phone rings at about 10 am and now you’re asked, “Will you still be there around 12 noon? God willing, I’d be there by I pm.”

This story of a people’s noble belief, on one hand, and the ignoble backslidings on the other – of their inspiring faith and the failure to live up to that faith – is the story of a society incapable of grasping the full fusion of God and the truth; thereby, this whole godly thing is rendered a farce, and destroys a culture.

Swiss precision

I tend to cite an incident in Zurich, Switzerland – some years back – where a hotel concierge checked my flight details for the next day and said, “Sir, a taxi will pick you up to the airport at 11.59 am tomorrow”. To my surprise, at exactly 11:59 the next morning, the phone rang; the taxi had arrived. Unbelievable! And to think the Swiss are not as church going as Ghanaians; and moreover, you’d not hear a whisper of God’s name in your interaction with them! But they lived up to the truth of the word.

At that airport, my elder daughter happened to suffer a gnawing pain in one ear. I asked an airport attendant for help. She dialed a number, spoke briefly to someone on the line, and then said, “A medic would be here in five minutes to help out.”

Within the five minutes, a medic appeared attired in white to be recognised. He pulled out an otoscope from a small bag and looked into the canal of the ailing ear. Next, he got out a syringe and squirted water into the ear. Soon enough a caked wax fell out into a bowl he had placed by that ear. For good measure, he attended to the other ear as well.

Who are we fooling?

A friend sent me the following WhatsApp message recently. It went like this: “China is currently the world’s leading economic power. In China, there is almost Zero Church presence …

“Finland has the most stable economy in the world today. There are less than twenty churches in Finland. Sow-to-prosper doesn’t work in Finland. Switzerland has the second most stable economy in the world. Switzerland has fewer than thirty churches. Miracle money is not welcome in Switzerland.

“Denmark is the third most stable economy in the world; there are about 23 churches in Denmark. Denmark doesn’t pray for its economic stability. These countries are considered to have the highest number of atheists, but they are prosperous.”

Korle Bu emergency ward

The news of the Gambian medical delegation to learn from Ghana (Daily Graphic, August 3, 2021) reminded me of an experience with a Gambian medical doctor who was interning at Korle Bu Hospital, Accra.

He happened to be at the emergency ward when I went to see him. It was a horrific sight there. Sick and dying people were strewn on the floor, many consumed in pain and literally gasping for the last breath.

Noticing my shock, he lamented, “A lot of this could have been averted, but first they went to their “spiritual” healers, and when that didn’t work, they were taken to prayer camps. Finally, by the time they are brought here, it is too late.”

The need for succour

One can understand a person’s need for succour at times; be they matters of ill health, money, business, relationships, etc. but why not go to the right people in the first place? In many cases “false prophets” are having a field day enriching themselves at the expense of the gullible. And as they say, good people stand by, aloof, and do nothing, thereby holding the whole religion enterprise as suspect. Institutional checks and balances are truly in order to save the vulnerable in particular, and the nation in general.

There was a situation in my office once where an assistant was so fast asleep at her desk that she couldn’t hear the phone ring. As I approached to answer the call, she finally jolted. The eyes were dazed and red.

That previous night, she had gone to an all-out prayer crusade for a praising and singing spree. Her voice had now collapsed, and what was left of it creaked grimly. I must have offered for her to go back home to clear up her sleep arrears and heal her vocal cords. And to think this episode happened on a brand-new Monday morning, at the very dawn of the work week!

We see and hear “born again” priests, prophets, and prayer bulldozers of various hues professing to not only have seen God face to face, but actually had breakfast with Him. And to think people choose to believe such contortions!

Stubborn truths

A reader of this column forwarded me a message. It may be hyperbolic but it

revealed some stubborn truths. It said, in Africa, there are thousands of churches per region “including 4,000 churches in the city of Yaoundé alone! Yet poverty is driving Cameroonians to even other poor countries. About 4,100 churches in only the city of Abidjan!

“7,000 churches in only the city of Kinshasa! 10,000 churches in only the city of Lagos in Nigeria! Lagos is just one state out of 36 states that make up Nigeria. Yet ‘Nigeria is awash with crime and corruption’.

“In Africa, we have more churches than schools and hospitals combined! More pastors than doctors. Everyone is born again yet crimes are on the increase. Everyone is covered with the blood of Jesus yet accidents happen on our bad roads.

“Everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit yet our morals are depreciating in geometric progression.  Africa’s religiosity does not reflect on the morals that is hoped for in a society.”

“Our people need to distinguish between religion and […] or between spirituality and brainwashing! Meditate on this. Hoping Africans will shine their eyes and put Religion where it truly belongs.”

Email: anishaffar@gmail.com

One comment

  1. May YHWH bless you for sharing.
    COur problem is not the religion but our Attitude..
    We need to work on our Moral Character


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