Does It Really Matter What President Weah’s Religion Is?

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President George Manneh Weah (middle) prays at a local mosque in Liberia

By Jones Nhinson Williams

Most recently on social media, I have read with utter dismay criticisms of the Liberian President George Manneh Weah for visiting and fellowshipping with our Liberian Muslim brothers and sisters at a local mosque. The President visited the mosque along with several officials and dignitaries including the U.S. Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Her Excellency Christine Elder.

To any rational being, this is not just a sign of tolerance, reverence, and an appreciation of peaceful co-existence, it is also a manifestation of real leadership, at least, in this case, on the part of President Weah.

Even though I continue to expect far better from President Weah and the CDC-led government in terms of legitimate, strategic governance that will lift Liberians out of the ongoing excruciating poverty, transform lives and project sound and sustainable growth and development, I also strongly believe that judging and criticizing the President for matters absolutely unrelated to the form of governance that matters to the lives of every day Liberians makes no sense.

To the social media critics of President Weah’s visit to the Mosque, I have one question for you.  Does it really matter what a president’s religion is? I don’t think so, and no logical person will think so as well. After all, the President as a person has the right to identify with any religion at any time he so desires.  That should be no one business.  Like the President, every Liberian has a similar right to identify with any religion of their choosing, and I do that every time.

I studied for the Catholic priesthood but I have visited Mosques, Jewish Synagogues, Hindu Temples and also prayed and attended services in all. Besides, some of my good and trusted friends are Muslims, Hindus and Jews and for almost 12 years I served as administrator of the Jewish Family Services international refugees resettlement and integration program. To me, how a person chooses to affiliate is a personal matter and there should be nothing political or critical about it.

I recognized that there are legitimate reasons why most people are angry with and critique the leadership of President Weah and the CDC-led coalition government. I also equally believe that people should have concerns or issues with President Weah based on social, economic and governance policies and programs rather than using religion which is purely a personal matter between an individual and God.

Criticizing the President for visiting and fellowshipping with another group of Liberians reveals how Liberian politics has become unserious and deceptive. Moreover, this shows that  Liberia is a unique country where almost everyone is culturally and uniquely insane but still believes we have what one would call a ‘normal society’.

To criticize anyone who is on a peaceful and personal religious journey is an exemplification of our society’s unique and cultural insanity.

That said, our leaders and successive governments are the architects of this unique and cultural insanity we face today and this is why it comes back to haunt them.

We are not a competitive country.  We are not an innovative nation.  We are not a society full of and led by people who want to make impact and improve our history.  We are also not a serious country that wants to be considered seriously in the comity of nations.  We frequently project ourselves as a cursed nation both on social media, in the press and in other environments.  I put all of these failures on our successive and current governments and leaders, past and present, that did nothing to transform the mindset of and motivate the citizenry into a critical thinking that would inspire patriotism, love of country and unity, innovation, entrepreneurship and a strategic competitive spirit. The lack thereof is the direct result of the idleness and negative mindset we see today amongst Liberians, at home and abroad. So, while other people from or in other countries are bent on promoting their countries, systems or way of life, we are on social media projecting our ignorance and absurdity, and who we are as a hopeless and disgruntled people.

When a nation is competitive, innovative and when its people are busy competing economically and socially; when jobs are created or are available in the private sector and when wealth and individual importance are based on transparency, accountability, integrity, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirits rather than fraudulent lifestyles, theft of public funds, corruption, greed, and dependence on government jobs to be viewed as successful, people will be so busy that no one will have time to talk about baseless issues such as which religion anyone belongs to.

Social media, especially Facebook, is like a refuge for many Liberians who are frustrated with what is currently obtaining in the country.  It is also a demonstration that our country is idled and this idleness is extended to even Liberians in the diaspora and to some in the Liberian government who use social media platforms to expose their glaring incompetence, and the weakness and ills of the country.

In countries where folks are serious and competing economically and socially, people don’t waste precious time to talk about religion as a public matter.  For example, in Rwanda where economic governance is at its peak, the youth see religion as a personal affair.  The reason is simple:  every young Rwandan is focused on the social and economic transformation in their country.  And they want to be an integral part of it so they don’t waste time on irrational issues.

Because of this reason, they have  no reason to waste precious time talking about which religion President Paul Kagame affiliates with.In Liberia, we are our own obstacles and down the road, we will feel the consequences as a country and people. Both the government and Liberian citizens at home and abroad are harming the country at equal footing.

The government’s failure and inaction plus the attitudes of the social media critics are driving legitimate foreign investments and good paying jobs away from the country even though some in the government do not understand this by claiming all is well.

Until we as a country can recognize that not everything is worth criticizing or putting on social media or in the news, we are doomed. And until our government and leadership in Liberia can listen to its citizens and learn to do the right thing, embrace competition and seek out the best minds amongst us so that together we can change the trajectory and stop the bad narratives we generate as a nation, we are equally doomed.

Finally, a president or government’s official religion should not matter in any country including Liberia.  Therefore, no one should criticize President Weah for visiting a mosque or affiliating with any religion of his preference. Instead, let us focus on what will make Liberia competitive in the global economy and in the comity of nations. We can do so by focusing on science, technology, engineering and math as well as investing in agricultural-food production, strategic healthcare delivery, innovation, entrepreneurship, and establishing a society based on transparency, accountability, the rule of law, peaceful co-existence, collective security, and personal integrity.

About the Author:

J.N. Williams is a Catholic educated public philosopher and a U. S. trained public policy, institutional governance and applied development professional with strong expertise in job creation policy, workforce development analysis, and socio-economic growth and development. He can be reached at [email protected]

4 COMMENTS

  1. As you eloquently stated, one’s religion should not be a requirement of what determines the president’s ability to properly run the government. However, recent events do imply that President Weah himself enjoys such a spectacle because for several reasons he has used the churches and mosques as his major route to harness public attention since rumors exist he is weak in dealing with the socio-economic problems, the deep seated animosities, and disunity, which have engulfed the country.

    It seems to me that President Weah is not the kind of president who would be comfortable leading an ordinary citizenry, spontaneously galvanizing public opinion from how he delivers on his promises and how he handles the economy. So, he uses the churches’ rostrums as his platforms to make various emotional appeals to the nation mostly based on frivolous issues.

    The president loves to appear as “god” and deified. Immediately, upon his resumption to power, he extracted swaths of public treasury money to erect a god-like monument of himself in the Doe Community. The monument depicts him on a plinth as the saviour of the nation, who has come to rescue the wretched poor.

    Additionally, he used money from the national coffer to build his church, where he gathers the CDC-faithfuls on Sundays for the planning, strategizing, and executing of acts of terror against the gentlemen of the third-estate and members of the opposition camps and their followers.

    And so it would appear to ordinary people the president’s religious pronouncements should be manifested in his Pro-Poor Agenda. On the contrary, they are not since his his pronouncements are matching his practices. The true universal God worship by Christians, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Moslems, and so forth is the God of plenty and not destination. And because of His copiousness, He will never let His seed to “Beg bread.” But the god, George Gbekugbeh Jlateh Jlakon Oppong Manneh Weah, is an apostate god, and woe unto those of our brothers and sisters who have fallen prey to his hoax.

    And so for me , these might be some of the factors that are compelling many of the citizens to ask the haunting question, “What is Weah’s religion?” For many, I do not think that they are asking this question out of denominational differences as much as they are concerned about the core qualities found in the major religions of the world. A few of these are: to lie, steal, murder, bear false witness, promote division, engage in adultery,and engage in prostration or in the worship of a false god),

    This situation is partly thrust on the vulnerable citizens.

  2. Patrick Samolu

    Right.To.Be.Anonymous

    In relating to the Press, .I guessed you meant to say, “…Acts of terror against the gentlemen of the “Fourth-estate” and not the third-estate.” Thanks to Mr. Nhinson and you for your insights.

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