By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
I, generally, do not make the liturgical and ritual protocol of religious institutions or churches, in this particular instance – be they one-man churches or the traditionally recognized ones – the focus of my media discourse or fare. But what drew me to the vehement condemnation of Bishop Daniel Obinim by Archbishop George Slezer Ofori-Atta, of the Council of World Bishops and the International Council for the Clergy, was the rather scandalous suggestion that, somehow, former President Jerry John Rawlings stands well over and above the civilized laws and principles of decorum (See “Council of World Bishops Slams Obinim” Ghana News Agency / Ghanaweb.com 12/27/14).
I also hope that, as indicated by his surname, Dr. George Slezer Ofori-Atta is not one of my Kyebi relatives. Those of us old enough to remember are fully convinced that the last person qualified to rebuke or publicly denounce any other Ghanaian citizen is Chairman Jerry John Rawlings. And so I find it immitigably offensive that Archbishop Ofori-Atta would call Bishop Obinim to the carpet for putting Ghana’s longest-reigning strongman in his place.
The details of what provoked the aging Butcher-of-Sogakope to self-righteously light into the Presiding Bishop of the International God’s Way Church are not clear to me; what is clear to me, though, is the fact that the man who, under the sinister and specious guise of “revolutionary house-cleaning” ordered Ghanaian women to be publicly stripped naked by drug-addled soldiers who were young enough to be their mothers and grandmothers, as punishment for “moral impropriety” (which invariably meant selling food and toilet items above junta-stipulated prices), has absolutely no right, whatsoever, to presume to morally stand superior to any Ghanaian citizen presently alive or deceased.
Well, I have read several news reports about Bishop Obinim’s weird healing and deliverance antics of stomping the stomachs or wombs of pregnant women, which I personally find to be clinically primitive, dangerous health-wise and one that verges on the downright felonious and criminal, but it is equally true that the vulnerable victims of such orgiastic displays of “Christian deliverance and healing” were not forced into Bishop Obinim’s church or prophetic dominion and/or domination.
Still, I sincerely believe that civil society leaders, in particular the clergy, have an obligation to publicly speak out against unsavory and unhealthy religious practices such as Bishop Obinim has been widely accused of being guilty of. I just don’t believe that a “Revolutionary Satanist” like Chairman Rawlings has that kind of moral authority to rank himself among the conscientious leaders of Ghanaian society. It is also rather amusingly sad, even tragic, that prominent church leaders like Archbishop Ofori-Atta seem to have so soon forgotten that there was a time in Ghana, under the terror-charged watch of Chairman Rawlings, when even church services could not be held.
Even more outrageously, there was a time under the “revolutionary” tenure of Chairman Rawlings, when targets of deadly vengeance who took refuge in the sanctuary of Christian churches could be cavalierly and routinely dragged out of these universally recognized sanctuaries and summarily executed without any qualms. And I am equally convinced that it is the scandalous denial of these untold atrocities by Christian leaders like Dr. George S. Ofori-Atta that Ghanaians ought to be most worried about, and not whether Bishop Obinim routinely and flagrantly indulges in clinically unhealthy liturgical and ritualistic orgies, such as he has recently been accused of indulging.
Then also, whether Bishop Obinim’s widely alleged, and publicized, stomping of the wombs of pregnant women is a message from God or not, is none of the business of Archbishop Ofori-Atta’s; that is strictly a matter between Bishop Obinim and his God. I am also annoyed by Archbishop Ofori-Atta’s implicit suggestion that, somehow, it would have been hunkydory if Bishop Obinim privately stomped the wombs of pregnant women in his “healing and deliverance” sessions. Where I was born in Ghana, this is called sheer hypocrisy.