Karl Marx once infamously described religion as the ‘opium of the masses’. It’s one of his most famous quotes, and although almost everyone knows it we all fall victim to it anyway.
The rich and powerful in society exploit religion to keep enriching themselves whilst the masses continue hoping for their reward in the afterlife. These days pastors have sprung up who are richer than their congregations 100 times combined but go back every Sunday to tell them they would be blessed beyond measure if they give the small they have to they, the rich pastor.
It’s a very cool scam which is easy to pull off because Ghanaians would believe everything so long as its couched in terms of religion.
Noted NPP executive Dr Arthur Kennedy has called out this mindset, arguing that religion is holding the entire continent of Africa backwards.
In an op-ed piece, Kennedy recounts the evils religion has been used to perpetrate on us Africans, right from the colonial days till now, where the colonial powers have been replaced by pastors and politicians.
Read his full, informative piece below…
I saw a video last week–of a pastor directing a stream of water into the faces of parishioners,from his mouth– for blessings!
A few weeks before, I saw one of a pastor walking on the backs of prostrate parishioners to cast out demons!
It goes on and on.
When I first learnt of Marx referring to religion as the “opium of the people”, it resonated with me as a Pan-Africanist. Christianity had been the tip of the colonial spear. It had rationalized slavery and all the evils visited on us. And so had Islam– over a longer period and with more cruelty.
The moment the concept of evil Christianity was brought home to me was when I saw the place where beautiful hymns were sung before pious sermons were preached while slaves waited in dungeons below– to be shipped across the Atlantic , at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
Now, don’t get me wrong. People and institutions of faith have done some good things. They have built schools and hospitals and orphanages. They have given us fighters for freedom and dignity — like MLK, Essamuah, Tutu and Aristid– who made heaven proud by making God’s work here on earth truly their own.
The oppressors have been gone for a long time but they left a strong rear-guard. There are black bishops and cardinals and reverends who make their white predecessors seem authentically native. Then there are the new churches, led with few exceptions, by businessmen masquerading as priests. Too many are more interested in selling holy water and incense than salvation. Where the bible talks of the work ethic, they talk of miracles and prayers in place of work. They are the voice of parties and politicians instead of the poor. Indeed, most people know their political affiliations. They pollute our neighborhoods with noise from round-the-clock preaching and singing.They exploit the poor instead of helping them.
Recently, Ghana’s most inflential christian leaders engaged the Presidency. They did not engage on children or libraries or schools or jobs. They joined the President in an initiative to build a NATIONAL CATHEDRAL so we can have one more place to worship with our poverty and joblessness and hopelessness!
They encourage the sick to seek miracles and not medicines.
The leaders of African traditional religion are not much better, unfortunately.
The question then is this: Is religion an obstacle to our development or a catalyst?
Can religion promote integrity, accountability and compassion in our governance?
Unless the leaders of our churches and mosques and shrines move to the side of the people and truth and accountability and God, we must sweep them aside in order to develop.
Long live Africa.