Some Ghanaians have opposed a government policy to facilitate Christian pilgrimage to Israel and other destinations.
The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs has come under intense criticism after it announced the policy last Friday. Government committees will plan and oversee the trips for the Christian community.
But there is seeming opposition to the policy, as some Ghanaians shared their opinions.
“The government cannot continue to sponsor these things. A time will come there will be a problem and this can bring religious conflict. So government should not get involved in these kinds of religious practices,” a Ghanaian said.
Another also said: “I don’t think it’s fair because with religion I know that they don’t pay taxes so they should sponsor themselves.”
Another Ghanaian noted that, “I have never believed in government doing same for the Muslims so they should do it for the Christians. I think we have a better understanding of our faith than that. At least it’s not one of our faiths that you need to visit Israel in your lifetime.”
Some civil society organisations as well as the clergy in a Citi News interview, urged government to reconsider the policy.
Franklin Cudjoe of the policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, said the policy indicates that “clearly the Ministry for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs has no job to do.”
“If the ministry wants to be a travel and tour agency, they should say so. There are many travel and tour agencies that organize pilgrimages to Israel every year. I cannot believe that a whole Ministry would think that they want to organize trips. They need to get serious,” he added.
The General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Opuni Frimpong, also explained that such an idea was pitched to them in 2012 by the Mahama government but they rejected it.
According to him, they are not yet ready to back track.
“We had that invitation sometime ago around 2012 during former President John Mahama’s administration and the Christian Council of Ghana together with the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference and I believe the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic’s also made that decision that while we would want our members to visit holy sites like Israel, Vatican and other places, we wouldn’t want such trips to be a burden on the Ghanaian taxpayer.”
“We have not changed our position. What will go into facilitation of such trips we don’t know; but whatever will cost Ghanaian taxpayer any cost for church leaders to make such trips, we have a position that we will not accept it; and because we took that decision collectively together, we wouldn’t want government to fund our trips,” he added.