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Religious Ecological Practices: A Solution to Ghana’s Environmental Destruction

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The rampant destruction of Ghana’s environment is an issue that needs urgent attention. However, Professor Samuel Awuah-Nyamekye, the immediate past Head of the Department of Religion and Human Values at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), has made a case for religious ecological practices as the solution. According to him, various religions have time-tested mechanisms that have conserved the environment for decades. He, therefore, urged the Ghanaian government to consult with religious organizations and incorporate their inputs, which are mostly science-driven policies, to deal with the menace.

For the most part, secular means have failed to resolve the problem of environmental destruction, as legislations and policies have not been effective. Thus, the adoption of religious ecological practices is essential. The professor established the relationship between religion and the environment, citing various academic citations and practical examples. He maintained that the war against ecological onslaught could not be won without religion.

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Traditional believers in Ghana, for instance, protected the ecosystem by revering lands and rivers, which they saw as gods and goddesses. They also maintained sacred groves and totems and instituted sacred days. However, the recent disregard for indigenous African traditional practices rooted in environmental consciousness and preservation is a worrying situation, which Professor Awuah-Nyamekye attributed to civilization.

Christianity had a terrible impact on the indigenous ways of conserving the environment because the missionaries demonized the traditional mechanisms of protecting the environment. Nonetheless, the situation is gradually changing because some churches are revising their theology to accept some of the indigenous ways of conserving nature.

Ghana’s original forest cover formed about 36% of the land but reduced to 23% in 1972, dwindled to 13.3% in 1990, and finally decreased to 10.2% in 2010. The current situation is even worse. Therefore, Professor Awuah-Nyamekye made Biblical and Quranic allusions to support his argument, saying, “Anything you add religion to will succeed.”

To inculcate a sense of environmental consciousness in the youth, religion should be integrated into the educational curriculum. The professor charged pastors and imams to devote some preaching time to sensitizing their congregation on environmental preservation at least once a week. He believed that this could go a long way to affect the environment positively.

In conclusion, the impact of religious ecological practices on the environment could be greater than the annual week declared by some religious organizations to do environmental cleaning. Therefore, the various faiths should liaise and discuss how they could conserve the environment in a sustainable manner rather than look down on each other’s efforts. When we heal the environment, we heal ourselves, and preaching about God without reference to the wellbeing of the environment is a disservice to God and humanity.

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