National Cathedral: A Divisive Legacy?

Feature Article Cathedral space not a problem in Ghana. Above: A regular worship and socializing venue under construction in a small village deep in the Ashanti Region. Picture by the writer.
NOV 28, 2018 LISTEN
Cathedral space not a problem in Ghana. Above: A regular worship and socializing venue under construction in a small village deep in the Ashanti Region. Picture by the writer.

The National Cathedral controversy is still raging. Somewhere in the Ridge area of the nation’s capital, a major demolition exercise of perfectly sound buildings is taking place to make way for what Reverend Duncan Williams says would be a Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo legacy: The so-called National Cathedral. Never mind that a good 80% or so of Ghanaians do not approve of it. The TUC has slammed it as unnecessary and the Coalition of Muslim Organizations of Ghana (COMOG) has sounded alarm bells regarding the dangers it poses to religious independence and many others have voiced misgivings, but it still has found its way into the 2019 national budget.

The main reasons that have been advanced for this “priority of priorities” religion nuanced project, has led some less charitable critics to wonder whether there are no hidden occult considerations. Remember, one man’s religion, is another’s occult. Ominously, those who approve of it see those opposing it as Antichrist. It is not a good sign – religious positions muscling into the political space. Secular republican governments stay well away from imposing religious symbols on citizens and keep State and Religion far apart.

There is a surfeit of cathedral space in Ghana, ranging from the traditional church buildings of the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., to the swanky nouveau architecture flaunted by Dag Heward-Mills’ Qodesh, Mensah Otabil, Duncan Williams, Agyin Asare, and many other charismatic church pavilions. They seem to be in competition with one another as some actually advertise themselves as “mega” churches. One of the most imposing buildings in the capital is the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) with their “Stakes” and mini temples all over the country.

In Ghana, there is no want of cathedral space, even small villages proudly own their “asore dan”, so what could be so compelling as to railroad a government in a secular multi-faith country to be so intent on defying public opinion to put up a “National Cathedral”?

Ghana’s governments, since independence have bequeathed many lasting nation-uniting legacies: Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Akosombo Dam, Tema Harbour and Township, Job 600, etc; J.J. Rawlings’ National Theatre and International Conference Centre, UDS, etc; John Kufuor’s Jubilee House, roads and a number of sports stadia; John Mahama’s Terminal 3 at KIA, Accra Regional Hospital, Medical School Hospital on University of Ghana campus, our own Dubai at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, to name but a few of such legacies. Even General Acheampong has Dansoman Estates and other legacies to mourn his tragic end…

This is the first time in our history that a government is using a partisan religious theme to put up a structure and describe it as “National”. The “National Cathedral”, according to its very few supporters, is justified among other reasons as a foil to the imposing mosque at Nima in Accra. But that is as disingenuous as it is patently pitting religions against one another. The Nima mosque is not “National” and is not being put up by the Government of Ghana directly or indirectly. And it was not coordinated as a “priority of priorities” from the seat of all the governments its very long construction period coincided with!

So, it leads to this question: Is the National Cathedral not a dangerous misplaced divisive legacy? The very fundamental right of the Freedom of Worship is being trampled upon and undermined.

If I’m a Moslem or Bahai or Hindu or Traditionalist, why should a Christocentric structure be imposed on me on the pretext of a “national” focal point?

Even the various Christian branches like the Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Charismatics and the plethora of the many offshoots of Christianity reserve the right not to be imposed upon by a “national cathedral” put up with the connivance of the State!

The State has no business in religion, according to our constitution, and any individual has the right to believe or not to believe in anything and that right is inviolable.

It is therefore unconstitutional to employ state resources, no matter what convoluted route taken, in any venture with the slightest whiff of religious proselytising. This “National Cathedral” is Christocentric and leaves out all the other religions in Ghana that are not Christian.

There can be no cathedral without the symbols of the Christian faith, therefore, this cathedral would not qualify to carry the accolade of “National” and should not be countenanced by any but the most divisive of governments. Could it have occult underpinnings as some are alleging and those against it bearing the mark of the Antichrist? No matter from what angle it is looked at, this is one “National” edifice is branded and will never be a focal point for ALL Ghanaians and will forever remain a potent symbol of the discriminatory hand of a government with a one-sided religious agenda if its construction is forced through.