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Ghana: Syncretic Religion
Country Study > Chapter 2 > Society and Its Environment > Religion and Society > Syncretic Religion

SYNCRETIC RELIGION


The rise of Apostolic or Pentecostal churches across the nation partly 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) was reflected in figures for membership that 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 in June 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 The PNDC repealed the law in late 1992.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, all orthodox Christian denominations and many spiritual churches continued to operate in the country.

Data as of November 1994




Last Updated: November 1994


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Ghana was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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