Religion continues to play a critical role in the development of Ghana. Religion influences almost everything in the daily lives of the Ghanaian from family life, economic activities, education, to any facet of life. Christianity is the main religion in Ghana with 72% of the population being members of the various Christian denominations in the country. Islam is the secondary religion in the country with a following of about 17.6% of the population. Religious tolerance is very high in Ghana. However, there are no major links between ethnicity and religion in the country. The major religions in Ghana include;
Christianity is the largest and the most popular religion in Ghana with approximately 72% of the population identifying with it. The number of Christians has risen steadily from 43% in the 1960s to the current 72%. Christianity was brought into Ghana by the Europeans who arrived on the Gold Coast in the 15th Century during the exploration of West Africa. However, the Presbyterians and the Methodist missionaries are ones who laid the foundation for Christian churches in Ghana in the 19th century. The Christian activities increased rapidly during the colonial period which also the establishment of social amenities including mission schools and other church-related institutions. Pentecostal Protestant forms the Christian majority and the dominating religion in Ghana with a following of 28.3% of the population. The Pentecostals believe in salvation and the working of the Holy Spirit. 18.4% of Ghanaians are non-Pentecostal protestant Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Methodists. Catholic Christian form 13.1% of the population while other Christian denominations including Latter Days Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, and Lutherans have a following of 11.4% of the population.
Islam is the second most popular religion in Ghana after Christianity with a following of 17.6% of the population. The majority of Muslims in Ghana are Sunni with only 8% of the Muslims belonging to the Shia branch. Islam entered into the Northern territory of Ghana in the 15th century as a result of trading activities between the native Muslims and the Sahelian tribe of West Africa. The Muslim population in Ghana is concentrated in the Northern Ghana and among the communities of Zongo who are scattered across the country. The Sunni Muslims in Ghana follow the Maliki School and Sufism which embraces brotherhood for purification. The Ahmaddiya Muslim community is the oldest in Ghana who have managed to convert several Christians to Islam. The culture and religious practices of Muslims in Ghana are similar to those of other Muslims around the world. They believe in Quran and the five pillars of Islam and also observe the Islamic holidays.
Traditional African Belief
Traditional African Belief continues to have a significant influence in Ghana because of the intimate relation to local mores and family loyalties. People express their belief in Supreme Being locally referred to as Nyogmo, Mawu, and Nyame. There are also lesser gods who live in streams, rivers, mountains, and forests and as such these places are regarded as sacred. Traditionally, ancestors and the spirit of the dead are also recognized in the cosmological order and the spirit world considered real. The ancestors are the immediate link between the living and the spiritual world.
Religious Tolerance In Ghana
Despite the rivalry between Muslims and Christian, especially in the Middle East, the major religious groups have an excellent relationship. Major Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are recognized as a national holiday. Muslims in Ghana are also allowed to celebrate their holidays and festivals including Ramadan. Traditional religious festivals such as Apoo are also celebrated freely in the country. Other religious groups such as Buddhists, Hinduism, and the irreligion or atheist have the freedom to exercise their beliefs.