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Culture & Religion

Advocating Humanism In The World’s Most Religious Country

In Ghana, where 96 percent of citizens identify as religious according to a recent poll, a conference held last weekend drew humanists from across West Africa.

What’s the Latest Development?

Last weekend, the Humanist Association of Ghana held a conference in the capital city of Accra, where the focus was on ways that humanism could impact West Africa for the better. According to its site, subjects discussed included promoting human rights for women and gay people, battling religious superstition, and advancing humanism as a “life stance.” One member of the group said that humanism “[gives] people a way to say, ‘I can make my own decisions and I can think my own thoughts.’…As long as you arrive at whatever decision you take though rational thinking, then you’re on the right track.

What’s the Big Idea?

Humanism is not viewed favorably in Ghana, which was recently ranked in a WIN-Gallup poll of 57 countries as the world’s most religious. Religion has always played a strong role in public life, to the point where even financial institutions begin their business day with prayer. Although Ghana has experienced a good deal of economic growth in the past few years, most of the country is still poor, and according to one humanist who also identifies as an atheist, “We pray for everything, and if there’s a god out there…we should be the most developed.” Religion commentator James Yamoah sees nothing wrong with discussing humanism, but “we can’t doubt the fact that the devil is sometimes behind these things.”

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