Actions it is said call for reactions. However, it is not all reactions that are legal or appropriate. The flogging of a girl and her boyfriend by Bishop Daniel Obinim in his church has attracted mixed reactions from a section of the public. While some see his action as a deterrent measure others find it to be absurd, inappropriate or even illegal. Bishop Obinim had no moral right to flog the teenagers, when he has not instilled in them attitudes and values and yet expects the two minors to exhibit good behaviour. He has openly, admitted to his weakness of not being able to exercise his parental supervision as a substitute father. It is important to point out that the psychological trauma experienced by the victims could make them withdraw from societal interaction if they are not given effective counseling. All parents and guardians must understand that parenting or child-upbringing is a full time job which is expensive and time consuming. We should not expect children to be angels when we have directed much of our resources and time to other ventures at their expense. A renowned American pastor Osteen says “the reason children get in trouble can often be traced to the fact that they do not have positive role models in their lives."
One issue that surprised many Ghanaians is
the seeming endorsement of Bishop Obinim’s action by his congregation.
This has led to more questions than answers. Was the silence of the
congregation over Bishop Obinim’s action out of faith? Or over
subscription to the biblical quotation or is it that Obinim is always
right? Any positive response to these principles is suicidal which can
be likened to the proverbial donkey Boxer who suffered his pitiful death
as a result of his naive trust in his master, Napoleon. What is
refreshing however is that government agencies in charge of child
protection and human rights lawyers have challenged Bishop Obinim’s
action as a clear violation of the fundamental human rights and dignity
guaranteed under the 1992 Constitutions of Ghana, the Domestic Violence
and the Children’s Acts.
It is high time to apply the rule of law so
that the so- called men of God who violate the law under the pretext of
their religious beliefs and more often with the support naive
congregants can be dealt with. The state must evoke its powers to ensure
that religion serves the right purpose and not to be used as a tool to
oppress innocent Ghanaians. One takes consolation in the fact that
institutions mandated by the state to ensure compliance and
administration of justice have filed complaints against Bishop Obinim
for investigation and prosecution. It is the hope of Ghanaians that
appropriate sanctions will be applied to deter others if found culpable.
By Lawrence Bodong Tophelilew, Graduate of
UDS- Wa campus (BA Social & Development Administration)