Opinions Mon, 27 Aug 2007

Rejoinder: In the Name of God

While Ghanaian politicians may not be alone in professing the name of God (witness the ongoing attempt by United States presidential candidates to outdo each other in professing their God and religion!), Kofi Akosah Sarpong raises some good points in his article on Ghanaweb: ‘In the Name of God’, on August 22, 2007.

There is nothing suspicious in seeking heavenly assistance in individual or national pursuit. However, the current Ghanaian dependence on a kind of altar call ascribing all manner of problems and successes to God, could be dangerous and self-defeating towards nation-building and national development.

Why for example is the West so developed and wealthy; yet Church attendance and profession of religion is on the wane? Think of China which is officially Atheist yet contributes (and also takes away) so much from Ghana and indeed Africa! We must use whatever intellect God has bestowed on us to better our nation; and give God a little break!!

When opportunistic politicians find common cause with greedy and sometimes ignorant religious preachers to conceive political ideas and national development in terms of divine authority and spiritual redemption; watch out!!!

Such was my thinking when I penned the piece below on October 29, 2001, in the aftermath of the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Is God the Problem?

West Asia (what is now called the Middle East!) is the birthplace of 3 of the world's most widespread organised religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Of course, Moses; Jesus; and Mohammed; whose teachings or philosophies led to the establishment of these religions spent some time in Africa to hone their ideas; ideas, which were then prevalent in Africa.

While Mohammed may not have visited Africa, his religion borrowed heavily from Judaic and Christian ideas and ideals. His followers, the Ansar, were in fact sent to Africa when the going got tough for Mohammed. These followers returned to what would become Arabia with fresh ideas, and additional fighting forces to help in the establishment of Islam.

But that is not my concern here! All three religions, which claim a far away God, have caused great havoc in the name of their God.

Neither has their God been an unwilling bystander to the mayhem and destruction done in his name. God, indeed, has been the most provocative rebel and terrorist in the history of mankind, God's own creation! Millions have died by his hands. Lands have been laid waste by his hands. If the Moabites, Amalekites, Hittites, and others were alive today, they'd curse God to infinity. God took their lands from them, and gave it to "my people", the Israelites. God delivered unusual plagues to Africans in Egypt because the Africans would not let God's "people go"!

Imagine someone turning all the rivers and waters of the USA undrinkable. There's talk of terrorists possibly contaminating US water reservoirs with anthrax. Well, God did that first! He turned all the waters of Egypt into deadly blood.

Imagine some terrorist slaying all the first-born sons of every German! Well, God did that in Egypt.

The other day I listened to one Dr. Kenneth Alibek, former deputy director of Soviet Biological Weapons on Cable Television (C-SPAN Channel), Dr. Alibek was speaking at the US Congress, and he produced a hellish list of deadly agents "manufactured" in factories during the Cold War era, to be used against humans, livestock, and foodstuff: Smallpox, Anthrax, Mad Cow Disease, African swine fever; various bubonic plagues, etc. All these manufactured 'agents' were to be unleashed against the world in case there was a war against the West.

I said to myself, what about AIDS!

All these 'manufactured' diseases are still in Soviet factories! Suppose some terrorists laid his hands on these! Dr. Alibek said he had about 30,000 people (from friendly Soviet satellite states)working under him. He said at least 9,000 of their number have 'excellent knowledge' on the manufacture of these deadly agents.

If someone spread all these plagues to humans, livestock, and food in the USA, it would be no news. God already did that in Egypt.

God spread locusts on Egyptian farms and destroyed all their crops. In other words, whatever the terrorists would want to do, God has already been there and done that.

And, if the terrorists decided to dig a channel so that the waters of the Ocean flooded America, guess what, it would be old news. God already perfected that.

Indeed, God killed everything on the "face of the earth", except the few who made it to Noah's Ark! God's been there done that!! God flooded all the Egyptian Pharaonic soldiers who decided to chase Moses and the fleeing Israelites in the Red Sea.

Some suggest that, terrorists will sink our ships, and drop hailstorm to destroy our planes. God did that against the Africans in Egypt.

Should God reform, and decide to tone down his terrorist acts, (as he has); humans will not give God a break. Humans will lead off where God left off. "With this Cross, Ye shall Conquer", so saith Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. He had a dream, and so began official Roman Empire recognition of Christianity. Thus, began official mayhem, destruction, slavery, and death in the name of God.

Millions upon millions have died as a result: The Crusades; Slavery in Europe of Eastern European or Slavic (Slavs) people; the Spanish (Spain) Conquest of the New World, the Spanish Inquisition; the Middle Passage of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; The Arab Slave trade In Africa; the English, French, Portuguese, genocide of native people in the Americas; Various religious wars in Europe; the European conquest and colonization of Africa; the English conquest of Australia; the Holocaust against Jews by Germans; the English creation of Northern Ireland for Protestantism, leading to death and destruction over there.

The Islamic Jihads and the conquest of North Africa; southern Europe; West Asia all the way to Pakistan. The creation of Israel, and the Arab Intifada since 1948! Whenever God has gotten tired of killing, humans took up his mantle and delivered more mayhem against each other. God's name is invoked against the most heinous, unspeakable crimes waged by humans against humans.

Using the name of God, organised religions have caused, and continue to cause all the misery in the world.

Yet, I have not read or heard of such dastardly behaviour, or such killings in the name of Buddha, Shinto, Zoroastra, Tigare, Okomfo Anokye, Akroma, etc. etc. Hardly do (or did) their followers go to war and create mayhem in their names.

It seems whenever humans claim to represent a far-away God who is unreachable, unseen, unheard, and unspoken; wars, disease, mayhem, and destruction follow. And, whenever humans organise formally to worship this God, they become intoxicated with greed and turn against God.

Dear God, now that you no longer, personally, announce plagues, floods and unspeakable pestilence upon man/womankind, would you ask your followers, be they Jews, Muslims, or Christians, to learn from your mistakes and learn to live together in peace!!!

Indeed, in the wake of the unspeakable horror of September 11, 2001, one of your "linguists" the Reverend Jerry Falwell of Lynchburg, Virginia, USA; pronounced that it was your manner of venting your anger at civil liberties group, feminists, homosexuals, lesbians, and abortion rights supporters in the USA.

In your name O God, many who claim to have been called by you to act as your spokesmen/women in your name, have learnt nothing of your forgiving and reforming temperament; not to say egalitarian living!

Above all, forgive me of my sins, oh Lord!!!

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Ellison, Kofi