Parliament on Wednesday tasked a joint Committee of Youth, Sports and Culture as well as Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to find best ways to regulate the activities of quack pastors and their prayer camps.
Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Quaye, set the Committee after the lawmakers argued that there was the need to take action against pastors and churches that take advantage of the constitutional provision of freedom of worship and association to defraud and extort unsuspecting Christian in the name of deliverance.
The Legislators were contributing to a statement on the activities of churches in the country by Member of Parliament for Mfantseman Constituency, Mr Ekow Hayford.
The MP in his statement said it is about time the nation take drastic measures and action to clampdown religious bodies and their pastors who abuse the right of persons.
While citing his colleague MPs to support the move, Hon Hayford said the legislation and an independent body is needed to manage church activities in the country.
Contributing to the statement, the First Deputy Chief Whip and MP for Banda, Ibrahim Ahmed said though he agreed with his colleagues, the actions must be taken with caution.
Hon Ebenezer Nii Narh Nartey, MP for Ablekuman Central said, the activities of the one man churches are the most notorious, citing his residential area where there are about four churches that held services even on working days.
In his view some of the pastors do not deserve the title, as their activities proved contrary to the role of pastor, stressing that some of them sell bottles of water, lotto numbers and paraphernalia at exorbitant prices.
After debates on the statement, the Speaker assigned the Committee with one month to work on the statement by consulting extensively from all stakeholders and report to the House as to how best to regulate the churches.
Before tasking the committee to work on the statement the Speaker expressed his concern about pastors using working hours to hold church services.
He said, “we live in a state where we all know that priests will keep people in camps, reportedly to heal them, and when they get worse they rush them to the Korle Bu, yet these people cannot be held accountable for malpractice; what kind of unbridled liberty can that be? And, in fact, in England and other places, if you bring a personal under such circumstance, the doctor or nurse is mandated by law to report the circumstances to the police and action will be taken, this is how a nation develops.
“So, we may want to think whether we should also have some of these things clearly established so that when people are rushed in, in suspicious circumstances, the law will apply, accordingly. It is very important that if others can be dealt with for professional malpractice, no one should be able to get away from this… We expect these committees to work seriously as we receive a total commitment from both sides of the house on this particular matter."
According to him, “It is dishonest that someone employs you and then you use the hours he pays you for, to go somewhere else, whether it’s a church or otherwise, to go and worship."
Prof Oquaye said there are times to worship indicating that, besides Saturdays and Sundays, church services could also be held in the evenings but definitely not the main working hours.
He intimated that, " even God work six days and rested a day."