Ghana government to develop national policy on religion
Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, says the government is developing a national policy to guide religious activities.
He said the document would address challenges that arose from the coexistence of different faiths and beliefs in society.
It will also provide a framework for the protection and promotion of the rights and freedoms of all religious groups and the prevention and resolution of conflicts that may arise from religious differences.
The Minister said this on Tuesday at a press conference in Accra.
He said since assuming office in April this year, he had been confronted with several issues pertaining to religious activities, and beliefs and underscored the need for a policy to manage the issues.
“I have also had opportunities to interact with leaders of religious bodies and civil societies in finding a harmonious coexistence amongst the citizenry. Part of the discussions have centred on how the religious bodies would be encouraged to put in structures to self-manage their front,” he added.
Mr Boateng said the practice of religion had divided opinions ranging from weak enforcement and limited adherence to laws, religious fanatism, noise pollution, money laundering, exploitation of the vulnerable within the religious landscape.
Others include limited documentation on code of conduct and succession that brought confusion and conflicts, false indoctrination, incitement to gender-based violence, inter and intra faith disputes and little know organisational structure or hierarchical structure.
He commended religious leaders for their impact on society, adding that his outfit would take proactive measures to engineer necessary reforms to address worrying issues related to religion in Ghana.
The Minister said per records from the 2021 Population and Housing Census by the Ghana Statistical Service, 21.9 million Ghanaians were Christians, 6.1 million being Muslims, one million were identified as Traditionalists, 1.4 million in other religions and about 400,000 were non-religious.
The Minister said as part of the process of reviewing a draft National Policy on Religion, 16 Regional Stakeholder Consultations had been scheduled to take place in the next two weeks.
He said the consultations were crucial steps in the development of a comprehensive and inclusive policy that would promote religious harmony, diversity and tolerance.
Mr Boateng said the stakeholder consultations had been made possible through technical and financial support of the United Nations Population Fund Ghana (UNFPA) Country Office.
“It has been a real pleasure establishing a working partnership with the Country Representative. A partnership that will see bigger joint programmes into next year,” he added.
Dr Wilfred Ochan, UNFPA Country Representative, said many people all over the world looked up to religious leaders for guidance, direction, and inspiration, especially when they were venturing into new and unfamiliar areas.
Dr Ochan said religious leaders were also competent in mobilising communities to fight against social vices and all forms of violence and provided support to children and youth.
He said religious bodies were helpful in shaping attitudes and bridging the gap between race, class, and ethnicity.
Dr Ochan said it was, therefore, worth having a national framework to guide their activities through a broader spectrum of consultations.
He urged all stakeholders to participate in the consultations to make the framework achieve its purpose.