The National Media Commission (NMC) will hold a day’s seminar on religious broadcasting to provide stakeholders the opportunity to discuss draft guidelines for final mechanism for regulating the broadcast of religious materials.
The seminar would also seek to bring out the dangers inherent in religious extremism and manipulations in order to achieve balance and care in the use of the nation’s airwaves for religious purposes.
The seminar on the theme “Religious Broadcasting: A Vehicle for Peace and National Development,” scheduled for Tuesday December 15 in Accra, would be organised by the NMC, the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association.
Speaking at the media launch of the seminar, Mr Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, the Chairman of NMC, said the national seminar would start a process that would lead to the adoption of guidelines for religious programmes on radio and television.
He said the draft guidelines are in the initial stages and the seminar would be used as a forum to brainstorm and eventually put more flesh to the existing document.
He said in the process of preaching their faith, some religious preachers had taken advantage of their followers and extort monies and valuables from them.
“In addition to keeping the people in constant fear of real or imagined forces, the activities of these religious charlatans have divided families, rendered some people hyper-spiritual and made others chase spiritual fantasies, resulting in loss of productivity and national cohesion,” he said.
“Some of the religious extremists and manipulators even take advantage of women and girls by sexually exploiting them. Needless to say, these activities have painted a negative picture about religious activities in the country,” he added.
Mr Gyan-Apenteng said across the world, religion or its abuse, could have grave consequences, adding that today as part of many countries, including some in the West Africa sub-region have become unsafe and unstable due to religious tensions or extremist violence.
“Fortunately for us, we have religious tolerance and friendship in this country. All religious faith exists peacefully in our communities and people of different faiths are able to participate in all activities together in peace,” he said.
“However, we cannot take this peace for granted. Let me rephrase that ‘we dare not take this peace for granted’. We have to take measures to safeguard it for now and for the future generations,” he added.
“As we are aware, what people say has a bigger impact than what they do, which is why we have to take religious broadcasting as perhaps the best starting off point in trying to avoid any potential negative reactions to religious extremism and other forms of unwanted activities under the disguise of religious practice in the country.”
He noted that many well-meaning personalities and corporate religious bodies had at various times lamented on the activities of these religious charlatans.
He said “quite regrettably, however, no practical solution seems to have been found to this socio-religious canker; indeed, it appears no holistic national forum has been organised to discuss the issue”.
Mr Gyan-Apenteng said it was on the basis of the foregoing that the NMC and other key stakeholders had decided to organise the seminar to brainstorm on the way forward.
Mr Mawuko Zormelo, the Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs, NCA, presented a checque of GHC 15,000 to the NMC towards the organisation of the seminar.
He said the donation was the Authority’s widow’s mite as part of efforts to support the NMC in sanitizing the nation’s airwaves. GNA