Ensuring Religious Tolerance In The Country

Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Director of Corporate Communication, Ghana Standards Authority. The joint-observance of Iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset in Parliament by Muslims and Christians as well as other forms of collaboration among different religious groups in the country constitutes a very significant landmark in the history of the country. Accommodating each other’s beliefs and practices is the first step towards religious harmony, unity and national progress.
Many a time, this behaviour, wrong as it is, comes out of ignorance. When people are aware and understand the essence of religious beliefs and practices, they will never be violent or clamp down on others who do not belong to their group. It is pleasant for people to belong to the same group and share common ideas since that makes it easy for their members to understand each other. However, that should not be adequate grounds for any group to antagonise another on the basis of different religious practices.
Not long ago, the National Chief Imam was praised by Ghanaians for his unexpected visit to the Christ the king Catholic Church in Accra for worship and to express his thanks to God for his one hundredth birth day. Again, the Pentecostal Council also presented assorted gifts to the National Chief Imam during the period of the Ramadan to indicate that they are also in support of Muslims in their fast. This is beautiful because God allows for variety in creation.
A look at the nature of human beings created by God shows that there are different complexions to distinguish between different races. This is why we can speak of Africans, Europeans, Asians, Australians, Americans and many others. What all these means is that discrimination on the basis of differences in behaviour and practices is needless and constitutes an affront to what God stands for, that is, sameness and equality of mankind irrespective of where we find ourselves.
In the same way, different religions may emerge from different parts of the world based on cultural beliefs and practices. These cultural beliefs and practices are based on different perspectives of mankind towards certain observances in the world such as how God is to be worshipped. For this reason, we need to tolerate each other in terms of religious beliefs and practices since we find ourselves in different parts of the world in which different environmental conditions influence our beliefs and practices.
If, for example, through no fault of yours, a person is born into a Muslim family, it is most likely he will be influenced by family members to become a Muslim. In the same way, if another person is born into a Christian family, it is also likely this person will be tutored by his family to become a Christian. This shows that God is a God of variety so those of us who worship him must bear in mind that it does not pay to attack each other on the basis of religious differences.
We should all learn from this and note that becoming a true son or daughter of God implies keeping to your faith and at the same time accommodating other religious beliefs to attain religious tolerance and societal harmony. This is what is needed for peace, social cohesion, rapid economic growth and national development.
Script Is by Dr Kofi Amponsa-Bediako, Director of Corporate Communication, Ghana Standards Authority


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