You can't legislate the holy spirit - Sam George tells Parliament
The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George has cautioned Parliament against attempts to regulate churches in Ghana.
According to him, any such attempt will amount to a sacrilege, and pointed to the country's statutes.
"...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," he warned.
Parliament is set to investigate regulations governing church activities in Ghana, especially those exploiting the gullibility of the public.
Some legislators on Wednesday asked the House to consider enacting a law to clamp down on these exploitative self-styled Men of God and their churches.
In a statement on the Floor on activities of churches, MP for Mfantsiman Constituency, Ekow Hayford said it was about time the State took drastic action against pastors who abuse people’s rights through a legislation and an independent body to manage church administration.
Backing his colleague, MP for Ablekuma Central, Ebenezer Nartey argued that some pastors in the country do not deserve to carry themselves as such.
“Mr Speaker, you are Reverend Minister yourself, and I believe strongly that you have been monitoring our TVs and radio stations and we all see the attitudes and behaviour of some pastors and some churches,” he said.
Sharing a personal experience, he said some of the pastors are destroying people.
“Sometimes, we ask ourselves is this indeed, Christianity? Mr Speaker, you will see a 60-year-old man or woman being asked to carry 50 kilograms of cement in the name of deliverance, water, bottled water is being sold in the churches for ¢2000, ¢3000 in the name of deliverance. Meanwhile, the same person cannot even get ¢200 to go Korle Bu to find what is wrong with him or her?
“Mr Speaker, it is time that this House will take a decision to see how best we will be able to calm down on some of these churches,” he stated.
Following the deliberations on the proliferation of churches at the expense of human rights and the use of working hours for church activities.the Speaker, Rev Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye, directed that the Joint Committees of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, reports back to the House in a month's time.
Charlatans? Yes, But....
But speaking to the issue on Citi Eyewitness News, Wednesday, Hon Sam George said even though there are 'charlatans' around, "the church and religious organizations are already regulated in this country", and urged Parliament to adopt a more workable solution.
"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.
The position of the law
Article 21/1 (C) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana says: “all persons shall have the - freedom to practise any religion and to manifest such practice.
Also, Article 26/1 says “every person is entitled to enjoy, practise, profess, maintain and promote any culture, language, tradition or religion subject to the provisions of this Constitution.”
The law also provides that the enjoyment of such rights must not infringe on the freedoms of others.