National Cathedral And Bawumia’s Silence

Critiquing the recent roadshow in the US to ostensibly raise money for the so-called National Cathedral, Mr. Kevin Ekow Baidoo Taylor in his “With Due Respect” stated thought-provokingly, that “this cathedral can never and will never guarantee anybody entering into heaven”.

Heaven and hell issues are no joking matter so when someone riding on the back of a secular activity like winning an election is banking his or her hopes on constructing a cathedral to pave the way to heaven, serious questions of conscience and theology arise.

But, can the construction of a cathedral open doors to Heaven? It is a valid question when viewed against the background of a multi-faith society with large swathes living in grinding poverty, deprivation, decrepit housing conditions, poor health care delivery, disease, squalor and many sub-human living conditions…

Tellingly, many Christian denominations will never abandon their places of worship or long held sacraments for service in a nondescript cathedral: The Seventh Day Adventists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses and most certainly not the Catholics, to name a few. Indeed, a major theological question is which form the “consecration” of such a cathedral would take when it comes to the recitation of the Nicaean Creed: The Filioque et al…

As a multi-faith society, would such a cathedral serve any purpose when its intent is to keep out other faiths? Islam in Ghana is big and two of its holidays, Eid el Fitr and Eid el Adha are enshrined in the country’s national calendar. A Christocentric cathedral is very clearly and deliberately not meant for members of that and other faiths.

It is provocatively discriminatory. The question on many tongues is what Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumya, a practising Muslim, is saying about this? He has been so openly silent leading some in the Muslim community to question his loyalty to the faith he was born into, Islam.

Due to the partisan political nature of the project, Alhaji Dr. Bawumya, whose first name is a variant of the Holy Prophet’s name (PBAH), is for once tongue-tied, neither in praise nor condemnation! Embarrassed by it all, a well-known Muslim scholar with NPP connections said “if only they had named it national ecumenical centre”!

As it is, the building, designed with an imposing crucifix is a no-go space for the huge Muslim population of the country, including Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumya. Islam does not outlaw Christianity, in fact, the Holy Koran respects the “People of the Book” but that’s where it ends and they are kept widely apart. Apostasy is still alive and taken serious in Islam.

Dr. Bawumya’s loud silence reflects the cathedral’s inherent flaw and gives the lie to the claim that it would serve as a national focal point. It is too Christocentric for that, especially when its construction was predicated on a Christian thanksgiving concept by Nana Addo-Danquah Akufo-Addo. It is certainly not a friendly place for our libation pouring traditional worshippers. With the Muslims, there is animal sacrifice after the Eid el Adha prayers – again no place for such Judeo-Islamic practices.

In political terms, many patriotic citizens, from all political persuasions, including Christians, find it alienating and wasteful and have vowed never to set foot there, so again, a large chunk of the society would be kept away. Some less charitable critics have tried to make occult connections and the atheists among us are not happy that such a structure would be established in our national space and in our name. All in all, it is at best a wasteful ego trip like Houphoet Boigny’s basilica in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire, or at worst a quixotic delusional caper as in Jean-Bedel Bokassa declaring the Central African Republican Empire and fashioning himself after Napoleon Bonaparte and above all, not a guarantee that it will or can lead its promoters to Heaven!

The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, has okayed the construction of the Akufo-Addo Christocentric National Cathedral. It is a decision, which suspiciously seems to have been influenced more by the predominance of Christians on the Bench than the interest of a secular State. With that ringing endorsement from the SC, Ghana, your beloved country, freed at last in March 1957, is heading full steam towards a theocracy…

Could this realization be behind Bawumya’s silence? In fact, can he go to Friday prayers and promote the National Cathedral or at an Eid congregational prayer take to the mike and explain to fellow Muslims why a Christocentric monument is a “priority of priorities”? If he is unable, incapable or unwilling, then it means it cannot be a uniting focus for our country and he should gather the moral courage to dissociate himself from it…

It is so sad: that the outcome of an election can be so misconstrued as a carte blanche for such hare-brained capers to be paraded as part of the “mandate”.

State capture, by whoever or whatever has become the bane of many a sub-Saharan African country; it is inconceivable how these poor and indebted countries can claw their way out of their underdevelopment when the time for a creative, innovative and productive activity is sacrificed for cathedral activity. But the issue is not the freedom of worship. That is inviolable. Keeping the State apart from religion. Religion should not be allowed to capture the State, especially a multi-faith one like ours and the State must in no way be allowed to deny religious freedom…It is a delicate balancing act and this so-called national cathedral with the full participation of the State is a very worrying development…Worrying enough to keep Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumya tongue-tied?

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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