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Executive Summary

The constitution prohibits religious discrimination, stipulates individuals are free to profess and practice their religion, and does not designate a state religion.  Registration is required for religious groups to have legal status.  Debate among religious groups and lawmakers about how best to regulate religious practices continued during the year; the government and interfaith leaders continued work on a proposed regulatory framework that would ensure religious rights and deconflict policies, particularly those regarding elementary and secondary education.  There were reports of uneven enforcement and implementation in schools across the country of a government directive requiring schools to respect students’ religious practices.  This was illustrated by the widely publicized case of Wesley Girls’ School, which was ordered by the government to permit Muslim students to fast during Ramadan.  President Nana Akufo-Addo moved forward with plans for an interdenominational national Christian cathedral, and government officials solicited public support for the project, while opposition to the proposal continued.  The government continued to issue and revise directives for COVID-19 protocols for public events, including religious gatherings, which could not exceed two hours and had to be held in open spaces.  Religious leaders generally expressed appreciation that the government consulted with religious institutions on those measures, and most Christian and Muslim leaders advised their communities to follow the directives.  Some small, independent churches, however, continued to complain that the ban on large gatherings and the time limits on church and mosque religious activities infringed upon religious liberties.

According to nongovernmental organization (NGO) International Christian Concern, three members of a prayer ministry in Kumasi were wounded when armed assailants attacked their all-night prayer service on February 6.  Muslim and Christian leaders continued to emphasize the importance of religious freedom and tolerance and reported communication and coordination among themselves on a wide array of matters.  Religious institutions played a key role in providing vulnerable citizens a social safety net, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. embassy representatives discussed with government officials the importance of mutual understanding, religious tolerance, and respect for all religious groups.  Embassy officers discussed religious freedom and tolerance with religious leaders, including engagement with the National Peace Council and Regional Peace Councils, whose governing councils included prominent religious leaders.  In May, the Ambassador encouraged religious freedom and interfaith harmony in a social media post marking Eid al-Fitr.  In July, the Ambassador made Eid al-Adha donations to the National Chief Imam.

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 32.4 million (midyear 2021).  According to the 2010 government census (the most recent available with this data), approximately 71 percent of the population is Christian, 18 percent is Muslim, 5 percent adheres to indigenous or animistic religious beliefs, and 6 percent belongs to other religious groups or has no religious beliefs.  Smaller religious groups include Baha’is, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and followers of Shintoism, Eckankar, and Rastafarianism.

Christian denominations include Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, Eden Revival Church International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, African independent churches, the Society of Friends, and numerous nondenominational Christian groups, including charismatic churches.

Muslim communities include Sunnis, Ahmadiyya, Shia, and Sufis (Tijaniyyah and Qadiriyya orders).

Many individuals who identify as Christian or Muslim also practice some aspects of indigenous beliefs.  There are syncretic groups that combine elements of Christianity or Islam with traditional beliefs.  Zetahil, a belief system unique to the country, combines elements of Christianity and Islam.

There is no significant link between ethnicity and religion, but geography is often associated with religious identity.  Christians reside throughout the country; the majority of Muslims reside in the northern regions and in the urban centers of Accra, Kumasi, and Sekondi-Takoradi.  Most followers of traditional religious beliefs reside in rural areas.

International Religious Freedom Reports
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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future