The Liberian Christian Church and Political Salvation
By Nat Galarea Gbessagee
Posted June 21, 2002
Editor’s Note: The Christian Church, as a religious and social institution, has overtime evolved as a key pillar of every modern society for its moral fortitude, social services and charity to mankind. And in the case of the Liberian Christian Church, the challenge became even greater owing to the socio-economic and cultural realities surrounding the establishment of the Liberian nation in 1847 by a group of former slaves and their African kinsmen. But soon the early Liberian Church lost its luster to internal politics and segregatory practices against their African kinsmen. And the spillover effect resulted in the current Liberian crisis. But it seemed that old habits are hard to forego, and a group of Liberian Christian clerics are attempting to return to past glory, and transform Liberia from a de facto Christian country to a constitutional “Christian State”. So when The Perspective recently published an article critical of the February 22-24, 2002 Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade, Crusade Coordinator Rev. Korlu Kayve Brown shout back with the official program of the Crusade. Some of the issues contained in the program and raised during the Crusade that have prompted this article by Writer Nat Galarea Gbessagee as he takes you into history and back.
When Karl Marx declared back in the 19th century that “religion is the opium of the people”, he was probably perplexed by the degree to which men and women of seemingly sound moral judgment and high intellect would, in the name of religion, permit themselves to be manipulated, exploited, and sometimes abused by a selfish few bent on political self-aggrandizement and personal economic enrichment. So Karl Marx’s analogy of the persuasive power of religion over its adherents to that of opium, the popular drug of choice for youthful indiscretion bordering on outer body experience of highness and uncontrollable excitement, couldn’t be more appropriate.
For if we took a critical look at the role of the Liberian Christian Church relative to the unending socio-economic and politico-cultural upheavals in Liberia, and the level of inequalities and suspicions that subsisted and continued to subsist between Americo-Liberians and indigenous Liberians since declaration of independence in 1847, we may be just as perplexed today as Karl Marx was nearly two centuries ago about the selfish and efficient use of the persuasive and manipulative power of religion by a greedy few to the detriment of the majority.
Rev. Alexander Crummell, an Episcopal cleric and one of the early leaders of the Liberian Christian Church set in motion the duality of the Liberian Christian Church in seeking political and economic salvation alongside spiritual salvation, in a speech he delivered before the ”Common Council and the citizens of Monrovia” on July 26, 1855 to mark Liberia’s eighth independence anniversary. In that speech, Rev. Crummell laid out a master plan by which members of the Liberian Christian Church and the ruling Americo-Liberian elites --both being one and the same-- could appropriate land, oil, ivory and other fine goods and cattle from the indigenous Liberian population to foster their personal well-being, comfort and enrichment as you will soon find out.
“Gentlemen, we are all descendants of Africa, and hence we claim a special interest in, and a peculiar right to, her fruits, her offerings, and her gifts. But, after all, how very limited is our participation therein! I hear, Gentlemen, of ivory, and oil, and dyes, and precious woods, and gold flowing from all parts of this western coast to foreign lands, to enrich their princely merchants, and to build up their great houses… But I must say, nevertheless, that I should like to see some of these great houses here; and to recognize, as some of these princely merchants, the merchants of our own town and country, citizens of this Republic! I am not satisfied, --I tell you the truth, --that the wealth of this, our Africa, should make other men wealthy and not ourselves. It troubles me in the night, and in the day it vexes me, that of all the moneys poured out here for fish, and meats, and shoes, and merchandise, so little stays at our own water-side”, Rev. Crummell told the “Common Council and the citizens of Monrovia” (the words of choice for distinguishing between Americo-Liberian settlers along the Monrovia coast and the majority indigenous Liberians living outside Monrovia).
“I am aware of our slender resources and our thinly-scattered population, and no wise man expects an infant to do a giant's work. But we can do something. Let us systematically, year by year, push more and more into the country, if it be but ten, or even five miles a year; open gradually a highway into the interior; - look out the goodly land beyond us, "well watered everywhere as the garden of the Lord," and appropriate it; press onward a highway for the tribes far back, nigh the mountains, to come unmolested hitherward by open roads; and so by and by we may get large herds of cattle from the interior, and instead of sending some 50,000 or 100,000 dollars out of the Republic for tire single article of meats, we may have "our oxen around us strong to labor," and "our sheep may bring forth thousands and tells of thousands in our streets…” Rev. Crummell said
Speaking on "The Duty Of A Rising Christian State To Contribute To The World's Well-Being And Civilization; And The Means By Which It May Perform The Same”, Rev. Crummell observed that, “Our independence of the foreign market, the cessation of our semi-annual and exhausting wars, the promotion of industrial habits among the natives, the opening of larger farms among ourselves, the wide promotion of civilization, and the extension of the gospel in the interior, are all connected with road-making. With regard to belligerent nations (native Liberian ethnic groups), no better plan could be adopted than that of obliging them to keep wide roads open wherever they live nigh our settlements; and whenever a war occurs they should be forced, as one of the terms of treaty, to open a road some thirty or forty miles into the heart of their country. Trade would then keep it open, and they cannot fight in an open country”.
Rev. Crummell saw nothing repulsive and morally wrong with advocating for bleeding the indigenous Liberian tribesmen of their resources without just compensation and development, justifying that “...though Roman history is the story of the mastery of might over right, of the abeyance of individual freedom, of crushing nationality, of splendid, but barbaric brute force; yet Rome has transmitted the legacy of two valuable principles to man--INVINCIBLE ENERGY, AND THAT OF LAW AND GOVERNMENT” and added, “The Jew, the Greek, the Roman--types of religion, of intellect, and power; they have vanished and departed. But still their spirit remains; for that spirit forms the elements of our faith, of our culture, and of our national rule and State polity. The religion which we profess, the modes of reasoning we adopt, the intellectual methods we employ, the elements of our youthful instruction, our modes of government, the authority and the forms of law, the simplest types of architecture, and some of the commonest modes of our manners and refinement, all link the present with the past, and clearly show the unity of the race”.
Rev. Crummell said as a “new Christian state”, the “one MORAL good Liberia could do for the world was to “strive after a lofty style of government, and the lustration of law and order”, but he quickly suggested that “…we who are private citizens should learn ourselves and teach our children to respect all constituted authority, to reverence the laws, and to fear our rulers. The fact that this is a republic, voids not the remembrance of the sacred Word, that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God’. If, therefore, we would more and more approach ideal governmental superiority, --while, indeed, studying our rights, jealously watching the safeguards of liberty, in a free state like this, --we should always maintain a manly forbearance, and that generous balance of thought and inclination which eschews the blustering demagoguism, whose tendency is to make rulers insecure in their high places and cause weak minds in authority to cater to public prejudice and passion. Rulers should never fear the people; and it is the depth of meanness in a man, or a number of men, who would create a public sentiment which would so relax rule and authority that it should fall away to magisterial sycophancy and official mean-spiritedness”.
With such powerful strategy speech barely eight years after Liberia’s declaration of independence in 1847, by such learned cleric and a leader of the early Liberian Christian Church as Rev. Crummell, it was only logical for the Church to turn a blind eye on the mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of Liberia by the ruling Americo-Liberian elites, as the Church saw nothing morally wrong and repugnant about subjecting the people to virtual slavery as domestic workers while denying them citizenship, education and decent standards of living in the land of their ancestry on which they have lived and toiled for generations prior to the arrival in 1822 of freed American slaves and their colonial agents and masters in the American Colonization Society.
Indeed, abundant evidence exists in countless volumes of history books, pamphlets and other materials on Liberia that underscored the connivance, complacency, and inaction of the Liberian Christian Church in perpetuating the great divisions that necessitated the 1980 coup and the ongoing civil strife in Liberia. Yet there are those Liberian clerics such as Bishop Arthur F. Kulah who on one hand wants the world to believe that Liberia’s current socio-economic and political turmoil began in the 1970’s by the demands for socio-economic and political changes in government and society by the so-called “Progressives”, and consummated by the 1980 violent overthrow of President William R. Tolbert, Jr. by 17 enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia led by then Master Sergeant, and later President Samuel K. Doe. On the other hand, Rev. Kortu Kayve Brown wants the world to believe that Liberia’s problems will evaporate in thin air overnight once it constitutionally becomes a “Christian State.” We shall examine their arguments.
In his book, “Liberia Will Rise Again: Reflections on the Liberian Civil Crisis”, former Liberian Methodist Bishop, Arthur F. Kulah said he was branded as the “Rebel Bishop” by detractors who misunderstood his peace missions or “shuttle diplomacy” between the NPFL rebel stronghold of Gbarnga in Central Liberia and the civil administration in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, at the height of the Liberian civil war while he was attempting to bring the Monrovia government of President Doe, and later Dr. Amos Sawyer of the Interim Government of National Unity and the Gbarnga government of then rebel commander, and current Liberian President Charles Taylor to the negotiating table in order to stop the war.
The Bishop was self-gratifying about the role he played in averting a religious war alongside the Liberian civil war by bringing together the two dominant Liberian religious groups, the Liberian Muslim and Christian Communities, under the umbrella of the Inter-Faith Mediation Council, and touched on a brief history of the inequality between Americo Liberians and indigenous Liberians. But the rest of the book seemed devoted to recording the atrocities allegedly committed by President Doe, the first modern indigenous president of Liberia, as opposed to atrocities allegedly committed by Americo-Liberian presidents before Doe, or the documented mass destruction and mayhem attributed to the NPFL under Taylor, another Americo-Liberian. The bishop decided to address crimes allegedly committed by Taylor during the civil war, and crimes by other Americo-Liberians before 1980, in less passionate detail as Doe’s.
“Not many persons were really surprised that a war broke out in Liberia. As far back as 1980 or even 1947, some knew that one day Liberia would become engulfed in a civil war…the decade of the 1980’s was a stormy era. Beginning with the coup d’etat on April 12 1980, the military government under the leadership of head of state and later president, Samuel K. Doe, ruled with such iron handedness that in some circles the government was described as ranking with or worst than that of dictator Idi Amin who ruled Uganda in the 1970’s”, Bishop Kulah wrote, without explaining why many persons thought “as far back as 1980 and even 1947” that a civil war was imminent in Liberia.
“At the start of the 1980 revolution, civil servant’s salaries were increased by almost 200 percent. That increase was a welcome relief from the low income many Liberians had been receiving. At that time, the United States dollar was legal tender in Liberia, and so the standard of living of Liberians was expected to rise. But Doe overturned his own good deeds and intentions by abolishing the hut tax and the head tax, which boosted the revenue from Liberian’s rural regions and were used to develop those areas. Doe also began deducting 25 percent of the civil servants’ income. The joke was circulated that he meant to say twenty-five dollars, thus revealing the low level of expense and education he had and the poor advice he received. Doe also introduced some strenuous new taxes and a new Liberian currency. …”, the Bishop narrated along with countless other charges against the Doe administration.
In reference to Taylor’s NPFL rebels, the masterminds of the seven-year devastating Liberian civil war from 1989-1997, Bishop Kulah wrote: “The brutal nature of the Doe government made many Liberians, irrespective of tribe or ethnic background, identify with Taylor and the NPFL. Nobody wanted another ten years under Doe. This desire for a new government made many see the NPFL as a breath of fresh air and not the suffocating wind it became. The initial successes of the NPFL were partly due to the cooperative nature and willing contributions of the Liberian people both at home and abroad.
“At the beginning of the 1990 war, Taylor declared to the Liberian people that he was launching a popular revolution not for power for himself but to free the Liberian people from the grips of Doe’s death machine. Taylor claimed he wanted to give Liberians a chance to live better lives where everyone could go to bed without fear and intimidation; he promised freedom, justice, and peace. Taylor further accused Doe of destroying the economy, repressing the people, becoming an autocrat, and having no respect for the constitution. These words would indict Taylor himself later on. Taylor and his NPFL became guilty of the “animal farm syndrome,” which is the tendency of returning to corrupt practices and a greed for power…”, Bishop Kulah said in flowery terms as if atrocities committed by Taylor’s NPFL during and after the civil war were less serious.
But Bishop Kulah soon returned to his usual non-flowery language when discussing the role of Liberian Progressives of the 1970’s in the overthrow of President William R. Tolbert, Jr. and the ushering in of the PRC headed by then Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. “A group of Liberian intellectuals who became known as the ‘Progressives’ launched a campaign not only to remove Tolbert as president but particularly to change the political face of Liberia. The Progressives began advocating a political philosophy with a socialist-communist ring…The message the Progressives were getting across was not power sharing but a total change that wanted to see indigenous Liberians in total control”, the Bishop said. “Today some claim that the major purpose of their political activism was to introduce a multiparty system; unfortunately, while they achieve it, there were more dangerous ramifications…The dramatic change finally came on April 12, 1980, when the Tolbert government was overthrown. …and a military government, named and styled the ‘Peoples Redemption Council (PRC) was ushered in…”, Bishop Kulah said.
“Although the PRC claimed it came to power because of rampant corruption and misuse of public office, among other charges, the more serious message that came out of the new government was that the era of Americo-Liberian domination was over and it was now time for the indigenous Liberians to exercise power. The song the masses danced to in the streets was, ‘Congo woman born rogue, Country woman born soldier’. The actions and policies of the government in the first few months showed that Americo-Liberians were clearly the target. Their properties were seized, many were jailed, and several slogans against them could be heard. Only later were token attempts made to encourage Americo-Liberian participation in the military government of the PRC. The reason for encouraging this participation may have been that most of those appointed to high-ranking positions were without training, experience, or education and were most incapable of running the government…” Bishop Kulah said.
Bishop Kulah also faulted so-called technocrats who worked in the Doe and Tubman governments for ineptitude, but thought Doe should be held more liable for the failures of the technocrats in his administration than that of Tubman’s. Bishop Kulah wrote: “Doe had only a high school education, but he gathered around himself a corps of well-educated men and women…Rather than helping to chart a positive course of direction for the nation, they became greedy, grabbing whatever they could get. A culture of lies, deception, and misinformation was developed; and Doe became a monster afraid of his own shadow, believing these pathetic liars and trusting no one, even those who meant well. They ended up destroying him.”
But of Tubman, the Americo-Liberian who ruled Liberia for 27 consecutive years, and who the Bishop admits was “responsible for the emergence of a one-party state in Liberia”, Bishop Kulah still returned to flowery language, somewhat exonerating Tubman of responsibility for corruption and mismanagement under his leadership: “Tubman ascended to the Liberian presidency in 1944 when World War II was still raging and colonialism by the major nations of Europe, many of whom were at war, was entrenched in Africa…Tubman relied heavily on his technocrats to make the necessary plans and programs of the government operational. Unfortunately, in many cases, most of these technocrats were more interested in their personal gain than in the interests of the nation. Tubman trusted their judgment and gave the necessary cooperation only to realize later that many project proposals that were presented for approval and funding did not exist or were not as elaborate as they seemed…”, Bishop Kulah said.
Of course, you may have noted by now that the common thread or bond between Alexander Crummell’s 1855 speech, and Bishop Arthur F. Kulah’s accounts of Liberian history as recorded in his 1999 book is the desire that as long as the Americo-Liberian is at the helm of power in Liberia, Liberia will fare well even if social injustices and discriminations persisted, and the majority indigenous Liberian groups were continuously marginalized. For, just as Crummell advocated for the cattles, oil, dyes and fine wood of indigenous Liberians to be indirectly confiscated for use by Americo-Liberians, Bishop Kulah attempted in his book to skirt the events of history to drive home the point that Americo-Liberians make better leaders than indigenous Liberians, never mind the equation of Americo-Liberian presidents and indigenous-Liberian presidents in Liberia’s 154-year history is 20 to 1 (or 155 years to 10 years).
But lest I digress, I shall continue with discussion of the advocacy role of Rev. Kortu Kayve Brown and like-minded clerics in the so-called “Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade” who strongly believe that the panacea to Liberia’s current social, economic, cultural, and political problems lies in the declaration of Liberia as a “Christian State”, whatever that means.
In reaction to a recent critical article in The Perspective about the Crusade, Rev. Brown made available a copy of the commemorative program, or “Prayer Points”, of the three-day prayer Crusade and asked the “reading public …to review the Prayer Points and decide for themselves whether or not the Crusade was about President Taylor or the Salvation of Our Sweet Land of Liberty, Liberia….” Well, I did read the “Prayer Points” as suggested by Rev. Brown, and I think that the Crusade was neither about President Taylor nor the salvation of Liberia, but about the failure of the Liberian Christian Church to live up to public expectation as a powerful moral force and voice against societal injustices and governmental abuse, and as a sanctuary of grace, love and charity to the poor and persons burdened at heart.
I saw the central theme of the three-day Crusade, launched in grand style by the sitting president, and blessed by a government decree permitting public employees to take paid holiday leave to attend the Crusade, as not focusing on how best the Liberian Christian Church could help to alleviate the uncontrollable sufferings of ordinary Liberians as a direct consequence of the seven-year civil war, but as focusing instead on the best crafty scheme by which the Liberian Constitution could be amended to officially make Liberia a “Christian State” so that Liberian Christian Church leaders could achieve their much desired Economic and Political Salvation, and have total power, influence, and control over state and governmental affairs as their forerunner in the Holy Roman Empire, never mind Liberia’s 1986 Constitution bars the institutionalization of any form of state religion.
But like Rev. Crummell in 1855, Rev. Brown and company in the Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade in 2002 have, in their so-called “Prayer Points,” mapped out appropriate steps that would eventually lead them to “economic and political salvation”. First, the Liberian Christian Church will have to “Renounce all national and individual satanic covenants (such as) Blood Covenant, Parental Covenant, Tribal Covenant”, and then “… all-national leaders (of Liberia) on every level of society (will) recognize and accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all their activities”.
The next step is to “Declare the Lordship of Jesus Christ over Liberia” as “All (state) resources are released to the Church” and then “The Church will be number one in Liberia” if the Liberian Christian Church must “Claim God’s promise for Liberia.” Of course, to be successful, Liberian Christians will have to “Confess that so many people are living in adultery and getting divorce, even among Christians. Pray that husbands and wives will be true to one another and pray for strong marriages. Confess and repent of all greed, financial corruption (in churches and government) and theft. Pray for honesty and that all forms of corruption and financial corruption and financial dishonesty that paralyze the country will be rooted. Confess and repent that the church is not caring for the millions of poor and the needy in our midst, as we ought to. Pray for a new compassion in the church that will lead to practical outreach and help to the poor and needy,” the Crusade’s Prayer Points indicated.
The third step is to “pronounce God’s Decrees for Liberia,” which translates in effect that “Liberia will be a Christian nation by constitutional provision. All Satanic thrones and power will be removed from the land of Liberia. (The Liberian) Economy will be placed back in the hands of Liberians who are Christians. All those holding state power (in Liberia) will forget secret societies (a common Americo-Liberian derogatory for indigenous Liberian Sande and Poro Societies). Liberia will never be a part of any military coup in Africa, (and then) there will be lasting peace and stability in Liberia,” the Rev. Brown and his colleagues in the Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade indicated in their Prayer Points..
The fourth step is to “Declare every people group in Liberia open to hear the Gospel preach to them and have churches planted among them. Pronounce boldness to preach the gospel any time, anywhere in Liberia. Pray against the use of Sunday for marketing and international football games. Pray against occult practices in Liberia, that is, the use of magic and other demonic powers. Pray for spirit filled national leaders-the lawmakers, law enforcement officers, cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, directors of public corporations, lawyers, judges, religious leaders, union leaders, community leaders, and family leaders, …Pray that all secret societies (Poro and Sande Societies) be abolished,” the so-called Liberian Christian crusaders resolved in their Prayer Points.
The fifth and final step is designed to “Build spiritual walls along Liberia borders from Earth to sky a garrison. Pronounce Holy Spirit front upon every agent and activity of the Enemy, declaring them non-functional on Liberian territory. Declare Liberia free from the kingdom of darkness to which our country has been sold,” the Prayer Points concluded.
Now, if the foregoing excerpts from the Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade held in Monrovia February 22-24, 2002, and dubbed as a Christian festival of fast and prayer for peace and unity in Liberia do not remind you of a political rally by a group of separatists, than your notion of Christianity is by far akin to mine. Yet, Rev. Korlu Brown, National Coordinator of the Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade, wants the public to believe that the three-day so-called Crusade was about love and redemption, and finding common solutions to Liberia’s myriad socio-economic and political problems, and was not a “pro-government rally.” Well, you be the judge. But a Muslim cleric and other concerned Liberians did question the wisdom of Rev. Brown and his Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade in advocating the creation of a “Christian State” this late day in Liberian history.
And, in an editorial, a Monrovia-based newspaper, The News, wrote: “A MEMBER OF the coordinating committee of the "Liberia for Jesus Crusade," Rev. Jasper S. Ndaborlor of the Free Pentecostal Church, has said they will campaign for a constitutional amendment to declare Liberia a "Christian State" …(in that) the country is facing difficulties because God has withdrawn his grace due to the failure of politicians to maintain the historical Christian foundation upon which independence was declared” adding “ REV. NDABORLOR RECALLED the declaration of independence with the assistance of missionaries at the Providence Baptist Church in 1847, arguing that the declaration of a Christian state would bring God back to the country”.
“ IF THE NATION is experiencing socio-political difficulties almost beyond control, it is not that Liberia has not been declared a Christian State, rather it is because deeds are not being matched with professed desire for a better country …Regardless of the limitation of religious livelihood, states that adhere to the tenets of accountability and transparency within the framework of the capitalist economic system are the most prosperous in today's world” the Editorial said.
“PRAYERS OR DESIRE for national growth and development and moral rectitude must be matched by an attitude of love and respect for one another so that an environment of peaceful coexistence can subsist to attract the required activities for prosperity. …A NATION WILL also always be left behind when its people preach honesty and transparency but are unable to exhibit these virtues. THE DECLARATION THEREFORE of a Christian State without the will to uphold those virtues that are required for the prosperity of the nation would be needless and a waste of time” The News concluded its editorial.
By stating that “A NATION WILL also always be left behind when its people preach honesty and transparency but are unable to exhibit these virtues,” the News editorial was clearly identifying a major weakness for which the Liberian Christian Church must, according to the Prayer Points of the Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade, “Confess and repent that the church is not caring for the millions of poor and the needy in our midst, as we ought to”. Over the years, the Liberian Christian Church has produced mediocre clergymen who have made great careers in the pulpit by telling their flocks to “Do As I Say Do, But Not As I Do.” In other words, Christian worshippers would do well to listen to the beautiful sermons and decide for themselves how to apply the theoretical text and teachings of the Bible in their personal lives and homes, but they should not look to their pastors as role models living exemplary lifestyle worthy of emulation in accordance with biblical teachings. And it was, and still is, understandable, considering that most Liberian clergymen are politicians, accountants, tax collectors, and they are also easily found in other vocations and organizations that abhor charity.
So the “Do As I Say Do but Not As I Do” cliché was meant more to pacify critics than to draw biblical parallels. All four modern Liberian presidents in my life so far (Tubman, Tolbert, Doe (not sure), and Taylor” were deacons, lay leaders, elders, or reverends in the Church at sometime. Back in the 1970’s, a prominent Liberian Methodist bishop accepted to be vice president of Liberia after the sitting president said God had revealed to him in a “vision” to select the bishop as his deputy head of state. There was much fanfare and celebrations in the Liberian Christian Church for the selection of one of their own as vice president. It was difficult to find a Liberian cleric who thought the so-called “vision” by the sitting president was phony, or that the bishop should turn down the office. In essence, the Liberian Christian Church censored itself by remaining silence on the “vision”-induced appointment of a bishop as vice president, the very action of which had numerous moral, political, and religious implications.
Indeed, it not surprising that another bishop, who witnessed firsthand the injustices meted out against the indigenous Liberian majority population by the minority Americo-Liberian population, and who lived through the 1980 coup and the 1989-1997 civil war, would write a book in 1999 blaming almost entirely, Liberian Progressives of the 1970’s and the coup plotters in 1980 for the current plight of the Liberia’s current social, economic and political upheavals. The bishop gave graphic details of the events of 1980-1989, but he was not too emphatic about events of 1989-1997 or events of 1822-1980. He even failed to discuss any significance of the year 1947 as referenced in his book -- “Not many persons were really surprised that a war broke out in Liberia. As far back as 1980 or even 1947…”,
Bishop Kulah was however emphatic in his criticism of the PRC for “… abolishing the hut tax and the head tax, which boosted the revenue from Liberian’s rural regions and were used to develop those areas”, as if ignoring the inhumane treatment and draconian methods used by the pre-1980 Liberian governments to extract taxes from the rural indigenous inhabitants when top government officials in Monrovia exempted themselves from paying public taxes and utilities bills without consequence.
But where the good bishop forgot to discuss the political and social events in Liberia prior to 1980, Assistant U.S. Secretary State Walter Kansteiner filled in the gaps this way:
“Greed and lack of good governance are the root causes of Liberia’s descent into its present deplorable state of affairs. Up until the early 1980s, a government representing primarily the interests of a privileged minority of Liberians pursued to excess the enrichment of a narrow class. If you wanted to send your child to school, you had to buy textbooks imported by a relative of the president. If you wanted to operate a taxi, you had to buy the yellow paint for it from a company owned by a close associate of the president. Rice, the staple food, was imported and sold by another government monopoly”. And countless other examples abound, but I think the point is crystal clear.
And, as you may have read by now, from Rev. Crummell ‘s 1855 oration to Bishop Kulah’s 1999 book, down to Rev Brown’s 2002 Liberia for Jesus Prayer Crusade, the distortions and disguises have been undermined at every step of the way by outside voices, and it is only prudent for the public to reach its own conclusions. But whatever the case, the Liberian Christian Church must move swiftly to rescue itself from the grips of the fig trees that have already taken strong roots in the Church and are now seeking economic and political salvation at the expense of the Church’s spiritual agenda. For while “We all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”, redemption is always a real possibility if only as Christians we can repent of our sins and return to God’s good graces. Let the Liberian Christian Church revive itself if it must retain any credibility as a moral force in society. For while the Christian religion promises its adherents social and economic prosperity, it nonetheless prescribes the sequence in the all powerful phrase, “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, and all things will be given unto You”. So, after all, the Liberian Christian Church can still redeem itself by putting first things first!