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Religion: Tool to foster economic growth, development

BY: Sandra Stevens
library photo
library photo

The power of religion has been underestimated over the years.

Religion has the ability to help develop Ghana. The reality of the state and practice of religion has hindered its influence to help build the better Ghana we all crave for.

It must be noted that the relationship between religion and development is likely to complement each other as long as religious beliefs and practices promote best practices and values of religious groups and are applied well in all aspects of our social, political and economic areas in human societies to merit an unprecedented national development in Ghana.
Ghana’s failure to develop is a known fact and this we mainly attribute to colonialism.

However, Ghana gained its independence to become a free State 62 years ago.

That’s a very long time to still blame colonialism for our current predicament. Depending on foreign aid for development must be discouraged.

Advantages and disadvantages

The mental construct of belief in God or something is an invaluable psychological tool of mankind. It helps us conquer our fears and instils hope in our very existence. Religion has been employed as a medium for both positive and negative things in human history.

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Religion can be used as a tool to incite wars, hatred, slavery, racism etc. and can also instil compassion, peace and love to enhance development in human societies.

Religion has the ability to influence perceptions and behaviours of several parties on the development arena.

Looking at the diverse contributions and ills of religion or religiosity, the question now is how then can it be utilised for the greater good of all Ghanaians? The three main religions in Ghana are the Christian, Islamic and Traditional African religions.

Prayers

Many Ghanaians think of religion in a one-dimensional way. Prayer is a means of communicating to our God/gods. Religion is not only about prayer.

It is an essential feature of our religious practice. The extreme essentialisation to reach out to supernatural help through prayers has contributed to under-development in Ghana.

The current trend of preaching messages of pastors in Ghana is a contributing factor that has affected the ideology of Ghanaians, hindering development in the country.

Majority of Ghanaians have lost the urge to work to gain what they spend their whole time at the churches praying for.

They pray for miracles and do not challenge themselves enough.

We do what we can and leave the rest to the government. We undermine the important values of religion, forgetting that religious books encourage truthfulness, righteousness, compassion, hard work etc. as values we must uphold to make our prayers truly meaningful.

Ghanaian leaders pray more than many nations on earth but lack the conscience to abide by humane laws that sincerely recognise all people.

One will expect that these leaders or politicians who are openly religious would live by the demands of their religious beliefs which will ultimately provide the best forms of governance. Religious values must be held and applied in all aspects of our lives.

As citizens, we also have a role to play to enhance development.

Politics

Bad governance is a major cause of under-development in Ghana. Blinded by religious affiliations, most people find themselves voting for one politician or another based on his/her religious background instead on focusing on merit and competence.

More often than not, it is presumed that politicians who are openly religious will exhibit good behaviour but unfortunately, most of these politicians demonstrate the worst behaviours and values.

Sadly, religious leaders do not come out to openly condemn these acts and have remained silent on corrupt practices and other atrocities of governments. Given the situation, there is the need to employ religious reforms as a step to enhance good governance.

It is important that as Ghanaians, we aspire for more and create kingdoms of heaven on earth with prayer and hard work. It is our responsibility to rise up from the fall.

Religion contains an embodiment of what makes societies peaceful and progressive. We must be conscious of the values we instil into our younger generation.

To increase development and move Ghana from its current under-developed status, the public must be educated so as to make a conscious judgement when voting politicians into power instead of concentrating on their religious background since such actions hinder development.

Our actions, if not thought through carefully, add up to this misery, and prayer alone cannot avert the situation.