The Assemblies of God denomination is getting a lot of media attention in Malawi because the faithful there don’t want to be the butt of a bad joke anymore.
The Christian denomination’s leadership issued a September 19 memo to all congregations asking them to stop using “Ass of God” as an abbreviation on their church signs, where – obviously enough – the intent of the abbreviation is getting lost in translation.
Rev. Edward Chisonga, president of the Malawi Assemblies of God, signed the directive to five districts of the church, pointedly explaining why the English abbreviation was, well, problematic. “For those who are not sure what the abbreviation means, the following are some of the other meanings,” Chisonga said, listing its usage to describe a donkey but also mincing no words about the expression for buttocks.
“Ass also means stupid, idiot and sometimes it may also mean sex,” he continued. “Ass may also be used to refer to a stupid or foolish and or stubborn person.”
Chisonga diplomatically added that, while Assemblies of God members may know what they mean when they use the abbreviation, it “sounds derogatory when it refers to God.” The church leader asked that all pastors in the respective jurisdictions avoid using the “Ass of God” convention, and immediately erase and replace the expression if they are using it.
The denomination has a proud 70-year history in Malawi, and is one of the country’s largest churches with a strong commitment to service. While amusing to many Malawians – and shared on social media – the episode was not likely to cause harm to the Assemblies of God reputation.
Nor was the sign flap expected to cause lasting impact to the Almighty, who remained unavailable for comment.