In a political sense, Mr. Sydney Casely-Hayford, the highly respected Financial Analyst and anti-corruption activist, is absolutely right that there was no need for Prof. Emmanuel Martey, the outgoing Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, to have come public with his revelation that quite a slew of ruling party politicians had offered him handsome and tempting bribes to keep him from criticizing the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government over the years, if Prof. Martey did not intend to name names, as it were (See “Prof. Martey’s Bribery Claims a Waste of Time – Casely-Hayford” Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 9/4/16).

Mr. Casely-Hayford is absolutely right in a social sense or context. For claiming that crimes have been committed without revealing the identities of the culprits, sets people thinking, tongues wagging and citizens speculating unnecessarily over who these criminal suspects may be. This may also explain why some of Prof. Martey’s critics have called for the Columbia University-trained liberation theologian to be questioned on his allegations by one of the several law-enforcement agencies in the country.

In all the foregoing, what nobody seems to be highlighting, either because of their general lack of understanding of the traditional role of the priesthood and the clergy in society, or simply because they have an axe to grind with the outgoing spiritual head of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), is that the role of the clergy is not that of prosecutors and law-enforcement agents. Rather, it is about the elevation of the consciences of the laity, especially those in privileged and powerful leadership positions who have been entrusted with the affairs of the people, our society and our country at large. Such has been the role of our Judeo-Christian priesthood since the beginning of time, as it were.

This was precisely the social role played by the ancient prophets and evangelists of Israel. Their role was to warn leaders against actions and policies that stood the risk of ruining a society or a country. And this is precisely the role that Prof. Martey sought to fulfill when he made his recent revelations regarding attempts by many ruling-party politicians to buy off his conscience or induce his ungodly complicity in such political eviltry with bribes. Like the Biblical prophets and preachers, Prof. Martey has been using the language of innuendoes to send strong signals to these enemies of the State to promptly cease and desist from their wayward ways or find themselves exposed and eternally humiliated.

Nobody really needs Prof. Martey or any of Ghana’s major clerics to name names before we come to a realization and a painful acceptance of the fact that legions of our religious leaders are being compromised by the hour. And also that a remarkable number of these men and women of the cloth may likely have been forced by various sets of circumstances, not the least bit of which is economics, to abandon their revered traditional role of conscientizing both our politicians and us ordinary citizens.

I was raised by my maternal grandfather who served the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, and before that the Presbyterian Church of the Gold Coast, in various yeomanly capacities including teacher-catechist, head-teacher and clergyman and district director of Presbyterian schools for more than sixty years, and so I pretty much fully appreciate where the likes of Prof. Martey are coming from. The fact of the matter is that priests, as the consciences of the people and society at large, regardless of denomination, are sworn to keeping the confidence of the people and their leaders as well.

In other words, priests are not sworn to naming names and shaming both willful wrongdoers and inadvertent ones. But they are not sworn against using the stories of these anonymous evil doers to caution society, at large, against dissolute behavior and the ultimate destruction that such gross misbehavior brings upon both individuals and society at large. Once this unique role of the priesthood is vividly understood, Prof. Martey’s anecdotal revelation would not seem as either grossly misplaced or unnecessarily controversial.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
September 4, 2016
E-mail: [email protected]

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