National policy on religion timely

 Ghana is regarded as a secular state and religious tolerance is widely practised within the nation and many Ghanaians continue to be tolerant of other beliefs and practices thanks to the laws embedded in its constitution which for­bids religious discrimination.

The constitution prohib­its religious discrimination, stipulates individuals are free to profess and practice their religion, and does not desig­nate a state religion.

Historically, through schools, students with dif­ferent backgrounds attend religious tolerant schools and communities practise interfaith dialogue and live in harmony.

As a matter of fact, there have been very minimal reli­gious conflicts in the coun­try as compared with other nations around the world. The benefits of religious tolerance are enormous as it leads to peaceful co-existence and development.

Many countries around the world have suffered wars that have lead to destruction of their countries. Thankfully, we have been spared religious conflicts and intolerant.

It is for this reason that the Ghanaian Times welcomes the efforts by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Af­fairs in pushing for a national policy on religion to address the challenges and to promote opportunities associated with coexistence of different faiths and beliefs in the country.

The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Stephen Asamoah Boateng who dis­closed this at a news confer­ence in Accra yesterday, said a proposed policy, is being drafted with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to provide a framework for the protection and promotion of the rights and freedoms of all religious groups, as well as prevent and resolve conflicts that may arise from religious differences.

Mr Boateng noted that the practice of religion had given rise to some social challenges including weak enforcement and limited adherence to laws governing the conduct and practice of religion, religious fanaticism, money launder­ing, false indoctrination, inter and intra faith disputes and incitement to gender-based violence.

He said, while the ministry appreciates and commend the works of some religious leaders, there was the need to take proactive measures to engineer the necessary re­forms needed for addressing the worrying issues that had sprung up.

While commending the Ministry for the forward look­ing policy, we must emphasise that there are vast benefits to be derived from religious tolerance in Ghana.

In fact the establishment and strengthening of religious tolerance, as well as mutual respect, friendship, mutual co-operation can significantly bring positive changes among many communities made of people with different faith and belief systems to help unify our people culturally and politically.

We think that the national policy initiative by the Chief­taincy Ministry is not only timely but very necessary at this moment and out to receive the support of all to ensure its smooth implemen­tation.

With a universal policy that is acceptable to all, we are certain that it would help im­prove religious relations and tolerance among Ghanaians as well as enhance our democra­cy, peace, political and social stability in the country.

We add our voice to the call on religious leaders, chiefs and politicians to partner with the Chieftaincy Ministry to fine-tune the proposed national policy that would promote religious harmony, diversity and tolerance in the country.

There is no better time than now to have and implement such an important national policy.