Ghana is constitutionally a secular country
Ghana is constitutionally a secular country

Problem with Christianising elections in Ghana

Ghana is constitutionally a secular country, exemplified by the 1992 Constitution which makes plain the importance of religious freedom and the ability of Ghanaians to practice the religion of their choice or to have none.


 This means religious liberty is guaranteed, and all citizens are free to believe and manifest any religious faith.

No political parties are allowed to base their appeal on religion. 

Christianisation of politics

A recent article (March 5, 2024) in the Daily Graphic caught my eye: Michael A. Ansa’s, “Peaceful, free, fair, transparent election. Role of church”. 

Mr Ansa advocates a major, unprecedented role for churches in politics, notably in relation to the forthcoming elections. 

Spread over two full pages, and replete with colour portraits of some of Ghana’s leading Christians, the article argues that to ensure a “peaceful, free, fair, transparent election”, the electoral process should be managed by Ghana’s churches.

 Mr Ansa’s assumption appears to be that the churches, an exemplary pillar of society in Ghana, would oversee without fear or favour the elections, and produce an improved outcome.

It is not clear if Mr Ansa is writing from a position of authority or is merely advocating a course of behaviour which he personally would like to see.

 It is true that many Ghanaians regard the country as a “nation of Christians”.

According to the 2021 census, about 71 per cent of the population is Christian.

Muslims make up 18 per cent.

 Followers of indigenous or animistic religious beliefs make up five per cent.

Another six per cent are members of other religious groups or don’t have religious beliefs. 

This demonstrates that around 30 per cent of Ghanaians are not Christians.

How they would feel about Christian bodies running Ghana’s elections is unclear.

What is at stake is Ghana’s continued position as a secular country.

Like India, the USA, Turkey and many others, Ghana’s Constitution underlines the country’s secular status.

This is not because religion is not respected in Ghana; it is because the framers of the Constitution were well aware that in a religiously fragmented country, it is important not to favour one religion over others.

Already, church leaders are becoming more vocal on issues of national interest in Ghana.

 For example, the Church of Pentecost recently proposed setting up a Christian morality council to oversee private and public behaviour.

 Christian leaders cultivate “insider” status with political elites and develop a high media profile to appeal to their followers.


The aim is to remake Ghana according to their values and beliefs.

The question is what impact this has on democracy.

“Christianisation” of politics seeks to improve democracy in Ghana, including in relation to the 2024 elections.

But I don’t believe it will have this effect.

Christianisation of politics pushes aside those who have other beliefs.


 This is not a basis for democracy.

Trying to influence electoral policy through religion gets in the way of fundamental institutional reforms necessary to make government more accountable and its actions more transparent, including better run elections.

Decline of democracy

Ghana has a well-deserved reputation as a sustained African democratic success story.

In 2008, America’s National Intelligence Council stated that “Ghana has emerged as one of

Africa’s most liberal and vibrant democracies, reclaiming a position of political leadership on the continent.”


In recent years things have changed.

Sweden’s V-Dem (“Varieties of Democracy”) Institute notes the decline of democracy.

V-Dem categorised Ghana as a liberal democracy during 2003-2014 and again in 2017-2020, declining to “electoral democracy” in 2021 and reducing further to “autocratizer” in 2022.

 This indicates steep democratic decline.

Freedom House, the US non-governmental organisation, identifies Ghana’s democratic decline with “discrimination against women and LGBT+ people” and “weaknesses in judicial independence and the rule of law”.

Freedom House also points to worsening corruption, poor public service delivery, political violence and illegal mining. 

A Christian solution?

There are several ways to deal with Ghana’s democratic problems.

One is to amend the constitution to reform government and the state, making functionaries more accountable, policies more transparent, and institutions more robust and objective. 

Those advocating for a larger Christian voice in politics, including popular education, organising and running of elections favour another way: Christian power to oversee political behaviour, including during elections. 

This indicates that to improve democracy it is necessary for practising Christians to play a leading role in politics and society.

This is based on the assumption that increased Christian involvement would spread Christian “purity”, transforming wider behaviour for the good, including at election time. 

To bring Christianity formally into positions of political authority weakens democracy in a secular state, such as Ghana.

To improve its democracy, Ghana should nurture a diversity of beliefs, motivations and behaviours.

 It could then pursue the common good by drawing on a variety of worldviews, reasoning, values, aspirations and habits – not lionising those derived from Christianity.

 The writer is Emeritus Professor of Politics, London Metropolitan University, UK

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