THE CHURCH ON CAMPUS AND POLITICS.
I remember it so vividly. It is almost a year now. After a marathon crisis meeting deep into the night to discuss issues relating to my hall and its bigger role in the affairs and future of KNUST, I decided to have a short nap before the day breaks up on me. I got to my room which faces the KATANGA lawn tennis court only to lose hope of any chances of sleep.
The voices were so loud they could wake the former Israeli Prime minister, Ariel Sharon from his years of coma. The first question I asked myself was, ‘which group of people were they?’. I decided to pay attention to the words. For the first ten minutes, they were speaking in ‘other languages’ so I could not get the purpose of this special prayer session. Then, all of a sudden I heard a chorus, ‘WE DECLARE PATRICK ADONU, THE SRC PRESIDENT OF KNUST, AMEN!!!’ This chorus became another prayer topic for God knows how long. Since I could not sleep again, I also begun to pray, declaring Katanga the beacon of hope for my university and an abode of peace.
The following day I got information that those who besieged the tennis court were a group of staunch Christians and prayer commandos who believed it was time to put one of their own in the helm of affairs, to change the dwindling image and immoral face of our student politics. I also heard a number of such people who some Christian groups on campus thought, could help salvage our politics, were introduced in some of our campus ministries. Some of these political aspirants are also leaders of various Christian groups on campus.
This year, as students take to the polls once again, this idea and agenda has shot up again. It has left me scratching my head and asking so many unanswered questions? Is this whole idea divinely inspired? Are the reasons behind them tangible? Are these current trends in line with the teachings and doctrine of the Holy Book, the Bible? Have the few who have benefitted from this innovation been able to vindicate the cause? Do we really force decisions on God or we follow the grand plan of our Maker? Until these questions are answered with all sincerity and with the fear of the Most High, some few raw observations need to be pointed at?
Is it not dangerous for the church to go deep into politics? Who then becomes the gate watcher? People are given church platforms to declare their political intentions. The cliché-like excuse given always is, ‘we didn’t let them campaign. They were only introduced’. Fair enough. In politics, introduction forms part of the campaigning process. The practise itself might not be wrong but the danger it poses is that, should that particular individual win, he carries the image of the church and portrays the very principles of the church. So what if that person wakes up daily and frantically decides to break the record of Satan, by telling untruths almost every minute. What if he decides to be a trouble maker instead of the peace makers the Bible admonishes us to be? What if he ends up being more corrupt than the earlier days of tax collector, Zacheus? Is that not the image of the church they are dragging in the mud? Is that not what the church is purportedly portraying to the world? To put the records straight and let anyone challenge me to it, the few people who had the advantage of church platform and support have and continue to be great disappointment to the Christian fold. They are doing worse things than the ills they promised to go and correct. Let anyone challenge me to it and I will put substantial evidence on board.
There is also this growing trend that anytime any of these so-called devout brethren of the Christian fraternity are up for political competitions, they plan and organise religious programs to coincide with the campaigning season. They put their faces on these religious posters either as speakers, hosts or organisers. Watch this space carefully. Since when did we start taking undue advantage of the things of God for our own personal ambitions? When it is noticed and talked about, the usual response is, ‘it was a coincidence’. Coincidences happen every year and so frequently that I think the meaning of the word must be changed.
Is it not so surprising that some people go to most of these large denominations on campus, take part in activities that will make them conspicuous, not because they take delight in doing the work of the Lord, but to get noticed for political reasons? Next time you see an out of place usher in your church who tries to clean your shoes with his own handkerchief or welcomes you anytime you pass by him, watch out. He might be the next kid on the SRC band wagon.
No one is against devout and firebrand Christians standing for political positions on campus. However, the right thing must be done. In my three years of active life in student politics, I have seen a lot which will make me speak to these issues very boldly. I have come across people who utterly desecrated the very church platforms which helped them to political power. I have seen people who have also lived up to the tenets of the faith so well. So the best solution is let the church handle its core business and leave the issue of politics to the political world for now. We can support these persons individually in prayers, in cash, in kind and other means without necessarily using church platforms or imposing them on God as those people did on the tennis court last year. Can we then speak against racism and tribalism in politics? Are we not practising a form of discrimination?
There are more demanding issues of equally political nature that the church on campus can handle for now. The intolerance portrayed by some of our Christian groups towards our Muslim brothers should be an issue of concern. I don’t believe a Muslim group will ever walk to a place they have seen Christians worshipping, get very close to them and decide to do their own thing. So what happens when we who are to be ambassadors of peace, decide to be nuisance to other religions. Will those acts of intolerance help us convert these people to the saving grace? Let us watch this behaviour carefully and ask ourselves if it portrays our faith. Let us also pay particular attention to the way we post our posters around. Are Christians conforming to the indiscipline of the world? These are equally worrisome political issues we should look at and work on.
Let the church concentrate on the kingdom business and let student politics not infiltrate the corridors of the church. Let the church hold on to its watchdog role and rebuke where it is needed irrespective of the person in charge. It is my fervent prayer that as some of us take our last nostalgic steps out of the walls of the university, we would not go with these practices into our mother churches. Those lucky ones who are still in school should know that a child who repeats the mistakes of his grandfather and father is the greatest fool in the world. He who has ears and a discerning heart should heed.