The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Stephen Asamoah Boateng, says 16 regional stakeholder consultations have been scheduled as part of the process of reviewing a draft National Policy on Religion.
Addressing the press yesterday in Accra, the Minister said these consultations are crucial steps in the development of a comprehensive and inclusive policy that would promote religious harmony, diversity and tolerance in the country.
He added that the stakeholder consultations had been made possible through technical and financial support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana.
“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 stated.
Mr Asamoah Boateng explained that the National Policy on Religion aims to address the challenges and opportunities that arise from the coexistence of different faiths and beliefs in Ghana.
He said it would also provide a framework for the protection and promotion of the rights and freedoms of all religious groups, as well as the prevention and resolution of conflicts that may arise from religious differences.
He noted that the regional stakeholder consultation is an opportunity for the Ministry to hear from the representatives of various religious communities, civil society organizations, academic institutions, media outlets, other relevant stakeholders and the general public.
“We want to listen to your views, concerns, suggestions and recommendations on how to shape a policy that reflects the aspirations and values of our people,” he stressed.
He stated that the consultation would be conducted in a participatory, transparent and respectful manner, saying “We encourage you to share your perspectives and experiences with us, as well as with each other”.
He also urged stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue and mutual understanding, while respecting the diversity of opinions and beliefs.
He expressed the hope that the consultation would be a fruitful and meaningful exercise that would contribute to the development of a National Policy on Religion that will foster peace, harmony and prosperity in the country.
Highlighting the pressing concerns within Ghana’s religious landscape, the Minister underscored the necessity for mutual understanding and collaboration to sustain the prevailing peace on the religious front.
“In light of these concerns, my Ministry has collaborated with key stakeholders to formulate a draft proposed government policy aimed at guiding religious practices. This policy is designed to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all citizens, irrespective of their beliefs or non-beliefs,” he affirmed.
The Minister emphasised that constitutional guarantees of the right to religion are not absolute and may be subject to limitations prescribed by law. These limitations, he asserted, are necessary to ensure public safety, order, health, morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
He cited the example of same-sex marriage issues, firmly stating Ghana’s opposition to such practices in its society.
Statistics from the 2021 Population and Housing Census by the Ghana Statistical Service indicate that 21.9 million Ghanaians are identified as Christians, 6.1 million as Muslims, 1 million as Traditionalists, 1.4 million in other religions, and approximately 400,000 as non-religious.
“With these figures, it is safe to project that almost all Ghanaians are religious. This makes my job more interesting and intriguing. We all believe and worship in God/Allah or, in some cases, another superior master who acts through His creatures like us to serve His purpose and each other,” he added.
Mr. Asamoah Boateng called for collective responsibility, emphasising the interconnectedness of actions and consequences.
“Whatever we do to each other has consequences that we will answer for one day. This is why we should be each other’s keeper,” he stated, expressing the need for unity and understanding within Ghana’s diverse religious landscape.