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Ghana - Syncretic Religions

The rise of Apostolic or Pentecostal churches across the nation demonstrates the impact of social change and the eclectic nature of traditional cultures. These establishments, referred to by some as separatist or spiritual churches or cults, combine traditional beliefs in magic and divination with elements of Christianity. The major emphasis of the cults is on curative and preventive remedies, chants, and charms, such as "holy water," designed to ward off the power of witches and malevolent forces.

Cults also offer social activities in addition to their religious and medical roles. Some have rival drum societies and singing groups that are highly popular among the young and women. To their adherents, these cults seem to offer a sense of security derived from belonging to a religious group that is new yet maintains the characteristics of traditional forms of occult consultation. The increasing popularity of these churches (Independent African and Pentecostal) is reflected in figures for membership, which rose from 1 and 2 percent, respectively, in 1960, to 14 and 8 percent, respectively, according to a 1985 estimate.

Although freedom of religion exists in Ghana, a Religious Bodies (Registration) Law 2989 was passed inJune 1989 to regulate churches. By requiring certification of all Christian religious organizations operating in Ghana, the government reserved the right to inspect the functioning of these bodies and to order the auditing of their financial statements.

The Ghana Council of Churches interpreted the Religious Bodies Law as contradicting the concept of religious freedom in the country. According to a government statement, however, the law was designed to protect the freedom and integrity of genuine religious organizations by exposing and eliminating groups established to take advantage of believers. The PNDC repealed the law in late 1992. Despite its provisions, many spiritual churches continued to operate in the country.

On 20 February 2015, the Ho (Volta Region) District Chief Executive (DCE) led a joint operation with police and health personnel to immunize the children at an Apostolic Faith of Kpalexose ("Well-rooted Faith" in the Ewe language) church against poliomyelitis. Church members consistently have refused immunizations on the grounds that their faith forbids the use of orthodox medicine. Police surrounded the church during worship services, and health personnel administered the vaccine. It was reported that 155 children up to age 5 received the vaccine. Community response supported the overriding of individual religious convictions as being in the greater national interest of eradicating polio.

However, a prominent human rights NGO criticized the forced immunizations because it was not applied consistently. Other guardians who had refused to immunize their children were not compelled to do so, and only approximately half of the children countrywide were immunized. The NGO argued that the Government should enact legislation compelling all children to be immunized before it could legitimately force guardians to immunize their own children. On October 15, members of the Baptist church in the James Town area of Accra tried to prevent health workers from immunizing children against polio because they claimed that their faith forbade members' accepting medical treatment. Although the church members later apologized, the children were not immunized.

The Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Accra officially suspended a priest in April 2000 for conducting unorthodox "healing" services. When he was conducting one of these services, the gates to the Cathedral were locked, and police personnel prevented worshipers from entering the church premises.

The General Overseer of Freedom Chapel International, Apostle Francis Amoako- Atta cautioned President Mahama and the Supreme Court judges to resist any attempt of legalising gay marriage in Ghana. The respectable man of God said 01 July 2015 the end time is near and therefore, Ghanaians should resist any attempt by foreign officials/leaders to impose such an immoral culture unto a high religious country like Ghana. The popular preacher said all countries that have accepted gay rights have been cursed by God and that Ghana would not be an exception if the country took a pro-gay stance.

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Page last modified: 15-03-2017 18:21:37 ZULU