National Cathedral: No Duncan Williams, No!

Tue, 13 Nov 2018 Source: Oli A Rahman

A friend said to me: “Keep an even temper”. He had observed my increasing frustration at wanting to reply to the many pronouncements emanating from people who actually, should resist the temptation to pronounce on anything! The person made a lot of sense – people do, most of the time.

But how do you keep an even temper in Ghana these days? I have observed it becoming distressingly unattainable with each passing political year since 1992, the year we reverted to constitutional governance after a decade of military rule…Remember the PNDC? We have kept at it since, with a rather strident partisan political edge.

Even as we have seen some consistency in holding violence-free elections seven times, we have not yet grasped the fact that democracy is not made up of only elections.

As the years have rolled by, so have we also become more and more loyal to political party than country. Our lingua franca, is the language of exclusion, to the extent that we often use democracy as a flailing tool, forgetting that democracy without an even temper leaves a polity bruised, tired and unable to put nation first. The devil may care that it leads to the loss of the many opportunities that could speed up progress – we just don’t give a damn!!!

In the months, weeks and days leading up to Election 2016, as the political parties vied for the eyes and ears of voters, it was the culture of nastiness that ruled the day. Facts, truths, personal insights into issues were clobbered viciously because they did not conform to political bigotry. Mouths drooling with foamy saliva, the rampaging political Rottweilers were let loose. Some would explain it away as “campaign rhetoric” – perhaps – but to me, very much a manifestation of the vile temper that is now ingrained in our way of doing things. It has become a culture of attack and insult when actually, “no comment”, “I don’t know”, “I have no idea”, “I don’t know the source”, “I have to investigate further” or “let me think about it”, should settle matters nicely, but no, some pain in words must be inflicted!!!

I read words only a day or two ago attributed to the Rev. Duncan Williams in relation to a proposed “National Cathedral” – a proposal that has met with wide public disapproval. A poll conducted by one of the credible English language FM stations showed about 80% of respondents saying no…But according to this news report, the Rev. Duncan Williams said those opposing the proposal were doing so because it was not their political party that had come up with the idea! I dismissed it as “fake news” trying to malign the “Man of God”.

But I decided to dig further and oh boy, it was no fake news! The Man of God did go to town! After reading details of his sermon, I had so many words to write him off as, well, whatever, but settled on the following few: His pronouncements were not only ahistorical but blatantly uninformed and bigoted. Sorry about that…

The Man of God cannot claim ignorance of the TUC’s position on the project. Surely, he is not accusing the labour movement of being a political party. Or is he…? The TUC was very unequivocal: With all our pressing problems, a so called national cathedral cannot be a “priority of priorities”.

He perhaps is also not aware of the stern statement issued by COMOG, the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, Ghana, which rubbished the whole idea. COMOG can hardly be ridiculed as a political party.

The Man of God made references to the crusades. Those references are too embarrassing to even be taken up, so I will simply let them pass.

As to the mosque at Nima, it is not a “national mosque”. For Muslims, one mosque is as good as the other, provided believers can congregate and supplicate to their creator. And oh, so the national cathedral is after all in competition with that mosque?! The game has been given away! And for the avoidance of doubt, it was not put up as a “National Mosque Project” to act as the legacy of any politician!

Surprise, surprise, why should the Man of God castigate Christians opposed to the project? What has become of the Basilica in Ivory Coast? What benefit did it bring the Ivorians? Did it stop the carnage that turned the country into a north-south ethno-religious divide!!!!

God is not demanding mansions from anybody. Christ didn’t even build a house for himself!!!! If a politician comes up with an idea that is ill-timed and not progressive the Christian thing to do is to boldly oppose it!

If one may ask: Why is the Rev not a Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian or any one of the numerous Christian denominations but now sits astride his own Christian Church? Answer: Dissent. The same way he found reasons to move away from these established churches to found his own, the same principle is leading dissenting Christians to say NO to the so-called National Cathedral!

If still in doubt, he should reach out for our Constitution. Though it allows freedom of worship, nowhere does it single out Christianity as our sole mode of worship…

I hope I have succeeded in keeping an even temper!


And please, let’s not take COMOG’s position lightly. Christianity and Islam being pit against each other on this national cathedral issue… Careful. Easy does it…

Columnist: Oli A Rahman