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General News Tue, 29 Apr 1997

There are 3,000 Religious Bodies In Ghana

Winneba (C/R), Ghana now has about 3,000 religious bodies as against 1,693 registered in 1992 under the defunct Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Religious Bodies Registration Law (PNDCL 221). This shows an increase of 1,307 new religious groups in the country since the law was enacted five years ago.

Professor Max Assimeng, a sociologist, disclosed this at a lecture on "Churches, Sects and Social Change in Ghana" at the University College of Education at Winneba yesterday. He said out of the number, the Religious Affairs Committee which handled the registration exercise, recommended 828 to be issued with certificates. Out of the number, 603 were published. Professor Assimeng said the number of applications not yet published stands at 222, while 14 applications were not recommended by the vetting committee.

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He said 836 applications were queried while 15 others were pending. Professor Assimeng said as with the case of several legislations enacted during the PNDC regime, the Religious Bodies Registration law was born out of controversy. He said references to human rights and the right to free association, were understandably made by opponents of the registration exercise, particularly the Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Christian Council of Ghana.

"These two organisations did not register. But scandals and fractious activities within and among the fold of the new religions, and stories of quickly rising Jesuses, prophets and prophetesses, create agitation and panic for the wider public. "Consequently, reactions to the registration exercise appear to me to have been generally those of sympathetic understanding," he said.

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