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22.06.2004 Regional News

Government urged to involve religious bodies in governance

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Accra, June 22, GNA - The Reverend Professor Elom Dovlo of the University of Ghana, Legon, has appealed to the Executive, to regard the religious bodies as key players in efforts to forge national cohesion and political tolerance.

He said since Government often requested the clergy and other religious leaders to assist in resolving political disputes or other national crisis, it was imperative to allow them to speak against situations that could result in poverty, disunity, conflicts, violence and instability.

Rev. Prof. Dovlo of the Department for the Study of Religions, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra, said the clergy should participate in national politics but on non-party lines to ensure justice, rule of law, human rights and progress.

"If an economic, social or political system is bad, and church members go to their pastors for prayers, they cannot tell them to continue praying.

" Pastors should be capable of leading their flock in expressing their opinion on the situation to bring about the desired change."

Rev Prof Dovlo who is also Director of Studies of the Global Evangelical Church, said with their prophetic voice, the clergy must be able to guide the ethical and moral structure of governance, its spiritual qualities and make critical comments on government.

He noted that individuals, organization, political parties and governments have persistently appealed to the clergy and leaders of other religious bodies to educate their members and pray for peaceful elections.

Rev Prof Dovlo, expressed regrets that whenever the clergy become critical of dictatorship, bad policies, corruption and economic mismanagement; they are rebuked to restrict themselves to spiritual matters.

He said the peculiar position of the clergy should empower them to comment on topical issues and not be restricted to religious issues alone.

Rev Prof Dovlo said: "The office of the clergy makes them opinion leaders, and so they should be conscious not to engage in activities that could divide the people along party lines".

He said the clergy should not be deprived of their beliefs and inclinations in politics if they do not use church members and resources to achieve their objectives.

Rev. Prof. Dovlo said the clergy should accept to serve on Boards of state institutions as a call to national duty.

He said although the clergy played a significant role in the struggle for the country's independence the current political terrain is not so conducive for them to play such a role again.

He appealed to the Christian Council, Catholic secretariat, Ghana Pentecostal Council and other religious bodies to educate Ghanaians on their rights and duties and assist the Electoral Commission to ensure credible elections devoid of violence in December for national development.