The rise of Apostolic or Pentecostal churches across the nation
partly demonstrates the impact of social change and the eclectic
nature of traditional cultures. These establishments, referred to
by some as separatist or spiritual churches or cults, combine
traditional beliefs in magic and divination with elements of
Christianity. The major emphasis of the cults is on curative and
preventive remedies, chants, and charms such as "holy water"
designed to ward off the power of witches and malevolent forces.
Cults also offer social activities in addition to their religious
and medical roles. Some have rival drum societies and singing
groups that are highly popular among the young and women. To their
adherents, these cults seem to offer a sense of security derived
from belonging to a religious group that is new yet maintains the
characteristics of traditional forms of occult consultation. The
increasing popularity of these churches (Independent African and
Pentecostal) was reflected in figures for membership that rose from
1 and 2 percent, respectively, in 1960, to 14 and 8 percent,
respectively, according to a 1985 estimate.
Although freedom of religion exists in Ghana, a Religious
Bodies (Registration) Law 2989 was passed in June 1989 to regulate
churches. By requiring certification of all Christian religious
organizations operating in Ghana, the government reserved the right
to inspect the functioning of these bodies and to order the
auditing of their financial statements. The Ghana Council of
Churches interpreted the Religious Bodies Law as contradicting the
concept of religious freedom in the country. According to a
government statement, however, the law was designed to protect the
freedom and integrity of genuine religious organizations by
exposing and eliminating groups established to take advantage of
believers. The PNDC repealed the law in late 1992. Despite its
provisions, all orthodox Christian denominations and many spiritual
churches continued to operate in the country.
Data as of November 1994