In my view, there are four Ps (Pastor, Pulpit, Politician and Power) that influence the Ghanaian society to significant magnitudes.
Religion and politics are complex when looking at each of them intellectually and empirically. Therefore, putting the two of them together is virtually like making an alloy of two metals. It is incontrovertible to say that religion influences politics and politics also influences religion especially in our neck of the woods called Ghana. In Ghana, the relationship between the Christian Religion and politics seems the closest even though the Islamic Religion and the Traditional Religion also have remarkable nexus between them and Politics. In this piece, I will therefore focus more on the relationship between the Christian Religion and Politics in Ghana. This article will unfold in different episodes for ease of assimilation and contributions from readers till we draw the curtain on it. I dedicate all the episodes of this article to Nana Tabono Bonsu III, Asantehene’s Brempon of Asante Akyem Achiase in the Ashanti Region. This is because this topic or caption came to my mind during a friendly conversation with Nana on phone.
Religious Influence on Politics in Ghana
Even in Biblical times of the patriarchs, religion and politics had influenced each other in so many ways and one of such ways was a prophetic caution (by Elija, Daniel etc) and a patriarchal directive (by Moses, Joshua, Aaron etc.). Fox (2018) agreed. “Religion and politics have been interconnected throughout history. For every ancient political entity for which we have records, religion was intimately connected to politics. This is true of ancient Egypt and Greece as well as the Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires” (Fox, 2018: 1).
The same is the case in contemporary times in Ghana. Conspicuously, Ghana practices three main religions namely Traditional, Christian and Islamic Religions. Sociologists and Anthropologists have studied religious and political phenomena in diverse ways and have drawn various conclusions. In Ghana, the Christian Religion and partisan politics have some recognizable seamless relationship that is difficult to sever and such a nexus or influence may continue for a long time. Some scholars (Handelman and Lindquist, 2011) posited that politics and religion cannot be understood separately. This is because certain societal matters constitute a concern for both religion and politics. For example, wellbeing of the people, ensuring social order, keeping the peace, social vices, education as well as respect for the fundamental human rights are matters that concern both religion and politics.
Largely, the Christian Religion influences the partisan political climate in Ghana. Whereas the Pastor wields clerical power from the Pulpit, the Politician’s power emanates from the ballot box within a democratic dispensation like the one Ghana has in the Fourth Republic since January 01, 1993. The pastoral duties tend to influence political duties indirectly if not directly.
A to- be politician or a seasoned politician who is seeking for a political position often turns to the clerical leader or the pastor on many occasions to seek for blessings because it is Biblically said that God rules in the affairs of men ( Daniel 4: 17). The said verse reads, “The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives to them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.”
In Ghana, some politicians listen and hope in religious prophesies given by the pastor regarding the former’s chances of winning political power. Many of such prophesies were given and are still being given regarding who will win election or not or who will die or not. Paradoxically, the pastors claim that they give the prophesies from the same God yet the prophesies are conflicting concerning even the same political actor. One wonders if God now speaks against His own word or gives counter prophesies to His prophets.
Apart from the Christian Religious influence on politics in Ghana, the Islamic Religion and the Traditional Religion also influence political practices or positions. Politicians seek for interventions from Imams, Mallams and soothsayers. Perceptions are rife that sometimes the politicians seek for such sacred interventions from other religions outside the country.
The stark reality is that in most cases, the prophesies given or religious interventions made to guarantee the winning of a political position becomes a mirage or a fallacy of a sort yet politicians still follow religious men or men of God for such helps. The politicians seem to follow the false prophets naively. This is tantamount to the shrinking forest whose trees keep voting for the axe that cuts them down; the trees think that the axe is harmless merely because its handle is made from wood.
The fact that false prophets exist in Ghana and elsewhere is not strange because Jesus already forewarned us about them. He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” – (Mathew 7:15). Again, Jesus cautioned, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” –(Mathew 24: 24). Are the politicians who believe in such prophesies oblivious of what Jesus stated or they are so vulnerable to the extent that they are unable to decipher between credible and deceptive spirits.
Apparently, some of the men of God give false prophesies for monetary gains from their political clients who believe in them or they just say those things to put fear in other political contestants so that they beat retreat.
The religious influence on politics in Ghana is to the extent that some political actors believe in incantations (gbesa in Ewe) or aduabor (curse in Akan) whenever they feel helpless in the political scene and cannot even turn to the judicial courts for redress.
Quite recently, some New Patriotic Party (NPP) activists turned to their gods for such redress. They passed curses (aduabor) on the party leaders because their preferred parliamentary candidates were disqualified from contesting in the NPP’s just ended primaries.
Consequently, they incurred the wraths of their party’s national leadership. The General Secretary of the NPP, Mr. John Boadu had directed that the constituency executives of the party should suspend the aduabor members. Mr. Boadu described the invocation of curses gross misconduct and that the national leadership of the NPP was appalled. Methinks that whether the leaders were appalled or not, the incident is a key example of the religious aspects of partisan politics or the religious influence on politics.
It is trite knowledge that Baffuor Osei Akoto’s National Liberation Movement (NLM) was formed near the Subin River by slaughtering a sacrificial lamb. Religion has therefore influenced politics in Ghana for a long time and it will continue to be so, going forward. This is because man is not only a physical creature but also a spiritual being. In fact, a political person’s belief in a deity, a god, God or a supernatural being is sharpened through nurture even though the tendencies to believe a supernatural is equally in his or her nature. Said differently, a person’s religiosity often forms part of his or her upbringing while his or her political choices come much later. However, it does not mean that some families do not internalize both religion and politics in their children. Some do so. End of Episode 1, expect episode 2.
~Asante Sana ~
Author: Philip Afeti Korto
Email: [email protected]