My Road to the Humanist Conference in Accra, Ghana

On Friday 23 Nov 2012, the first ever humanist conference takes place in Ghana. The organizer is the newly founded Ghana Humanists, a group I keenly follow on Facebook as I most definitely am a humanist or a freethinker. I also agree with one of the key speakers at the event, Nigerian skeptic Leo Igwe, that certain beliefs in Ghana – like witchcraft – are hurting people and need to be questioned.

I remember moving to Ghana and suddenly being under an immense pressure to go to church, praise God and believe! Quickly, I adopted a strategy that involved never speaking about my non-faith, throwing in some “Thank God!”, “By the grace” and “Insh’Allah!” in my daily speech and agreeing to visiting people’s places of worship (also I was curious, like most humanists!). If asked directly, I’d say I was a Lutheran – as The Church of Sweden is Lutheran – and I felt I wasn’t exactly lying, even though strictly speaking church and state were separated in year 2000.

It was such a relief, when I decided to speak up. It started when I began teaching and a student one day asked me about my faith. I just couldn’t say I was a Lutheran to someone I was going to teach. It didn’t feel right to hide who I was when I was telling my students to be proud of who they were. Although reluctantly at first, I now take the debate on issues relating to faith, especially with my students and particularly when it comes to dogmatic instructions of not asking, not questioning, not even for a second doubting.

One on one, I have talked about in depth why I can’t “give it to God”. In larger groups, I have initiated debate by for instance showing the film the Witches of Gambaga at the university where I teach and moderated the ensuing discussion. A freethinker’s club has recently been formed on campus and even though it is a small group and the Christian and Muslim groups have many more members, I still think its a great step to illustrate the diversity: Not everyone in Ghana is religious.

If you are interested in attending the conference follow the instructions here.

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  1. It is interesting that even an expatriate like you feel pressured into this christianity thing in Ghana. Whilst I am not against it I think Ghanaians have taken it too far nowadays and a lot of people are being led astray, especially women, by these so-called “men of God” who come up with their own doctrine by quoting blblical verses out of context and expanding it to suit their doctrine. So you can hear a pastor who will book a hotel room to go and pray for with the married women. Or they come up with doctrine like God will bless you based on the seed you sow (ie the money you donate to the pastor) and a lot of these women are holding on to this as the means to be prosperous. Its really frightening what some of these so-called men of God are up to and yet they get people to follow them.

  2. Thanks for the comment, however, I dont see myself as an expatriate. I am a foreigner, but I also have family here in Ghana and have spent majority of my working life here.

  3. This is great news. I am a progressive Christian and am turned off by American and Ghana style pushy closeminded Evangelicals. I am very happy that a space is being created in Ghana for non-believers. and those who might just want to think outside. the mold. This. empty religiosity is the part of Ghana I disdain the most. Onwards to a more secular society!

  4. Also appreciate the distinction you make between expat and foreigner, I lived in Slovenia with my Slovenian husband and was pretty fervent about being foreign butt not an expat. The expats were pretty adamant about living apart from locals and watching them like them like they were curious animals in a zoo, but I was looking to join that society.