Akufo-Addo Banning Religious Activities Without Consultation Wrong – Charismatic Bishops’ Conference
The Ghana Charismatic Bishops' Conference has expressed disappointment with the lack of consultation from the state before a ban was slapped on all religious activities in the country following the novel coronavirus outbreak.
It said it was unfortunate that groupings like the Ghana Charismatic Bishops' Conference, the National Association of Charismatic & Christian Churches, and Ghana Pentecostal Council were not engaged before the new directives were given by the state.
In a statement, the conference said “the arbitrary closure of churches and places of worship without consultation or discussion for 4 weeks, smacks of a disregard of the importance of the church's role in the country.”
“This disregard of the place of this powerful social and religious institution, to which over 70% of Ghanaians belong, is wrong,” the statement added.
Lapses in the ban
The conference also questioned lapses in the government’s directive which excluded “places of intense social interactions”.
“The notices from the Government do not mention the closure of night clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, busy offices banks, drinking spots, chop bars, lorry stations and markets. Such entities have been noted in other country's experience, France being a good example, where the pandemic has not been controlled as such enterprises have remained open.”
“To only ask for the closure of churches and places of worship, is a rather biased view of the society and does not improve much the odds of getting the disease under control,” the statement added.
The directive has however been welcomed by a number of other church groupings.
Coronavirus spread in Ghana
The new directives on public gatherings come after the increased cases of novel coronavirus in Ghana.
Ghana has so far detected six cases of the novel coronavirus , four of which were announced on Sunday.
Three of the newest cases were recorded in Accra while one other was recorded in Obuasi in the Ashanti Region.
All public gathering advisories
The full list of guidelines on public gatherings announced by the government are;
1. All public gatherings, including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events and religious activities, such as services in churches and mosques, have been suspended for the next four (4) weeks. Private burials are permitted, but with limited numbers, not exceeding twenty-five (25) in attendance;
2. All Universities, Senior High Schools, and basic schools, i.e. public and private schools, will be closed Monday, 16th March, 2020, till further notice. The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, has been tasked to roll out distance learning programmes. However, BECE and WASSCE candidates will be allowed to attend school to prepare for their examinations, but with prescribed social distancing protocols;
3. The Government of Ghana's Travel Advisory issued earlier today should be observed as announced;
4. Businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, but should observe prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff;
5. Establishments, such as supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, night clubs, hotels and drinking spots, should observe enhanced hygiene procedures by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands;
6. The Ministry of Transport should work with the transport unions and private and public transport operators to ensure enhanced hygienic conditions in all vehicles and terminals, by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands; and
7. The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should co-ordinate, with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, measures to enhance conditions of hygiene in markets across the country.
Find below sections of the statement CLOSURE OF CHURCHES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC (Covid-19)
The Government has issued a number of releases in line with managing the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Ghana Charismatic Bishops' Conference has noted the travel bans, and the restrictions on a wide range of socio-economic activities in the country in an effort to forestall any further spread of the Coronavirus disease in the country, a part of the wider global effort being championed by the World Health Organization.
We commend the President of the Republic for responding to the public's need for leadership and direction at such a time of heightened public anxiety and fears. We believe many of the tactics put in place will forestall the further spread of the disease.
The Ghana Charismatic Bishops' Conference has, however, noted a number of lapses, that as we try to bring this pandemic under control as a society, we will like to draw the Government's attention to.
It is important that these concerns are addressed for the measures being implemented to have their full measure in preventing the further spread of the Coronavirus pandemic among Ghanaians.
- The notices from the Government do not mention the closure of night clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, busy offices banks, drinking spots, chop bars, lorry stations and markets. Such entities have been noted in other country's experience, France being a good example, where the pandemic has not been controlled as such enterprises have remained opened. To only ask for the closure of churches and places of worship, is a rather biased view of the society and does not improve much the odds of getting the disease under control.
- We find it unfortunate that, markets and other like businesses, which are known to have some of the most unsanitary conditions in the country have been missed from the list of public places to be closed.
- Places of intense social interactions have been excluded from the bans. Trotros, buses, funeral grounds, football parks, drinking spots, bars, barbering shops, and hair-dressing salons are places of intense social interactions where the disease may spread further without bans. These must all the included for the mooted bans to be effective.
- We find it unfortunate that important church groupings such as the Ghana Charismatic Bishops' Conference, National Association of Charismastic & Christian Churches, and Ghana Pentecostal Council have not been engaged in the making of this announcement. The arbitrary closure of churches and places of worship without consultation or discussion for 4 weeks, smacks of a disregard of the importance of the church's role in the country. This disregard of the place of this powerful social and religious institution, to which over 70% of Ghanaians belong, is wrong.
- Churches own and run a significant part of the health infrastructure and hospitals in the nation. As the announcement has gone forth to close down activities of these churches, shall we assume that the health facilities which these churches run are also to close down?
- By this communique, we the Ghana Charismatic Bishops' Conference, are calling on the Government to close all centres of intense social interaction without fear or favor, and not to discriminate by closing down churches and institutions which they deem frivolous or dispensable in the society.