In Ghana, The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious #Affairs received backlash from citizens after it announced its plans to oversee and sponsor the pilgrimages of Ghanaian Christians to Israel and other parts of the Christian world on a yearly basis. The announcement was made by Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, the organization's head minister, on Thursday (June 15th) at a press conference in the city of Accra.

What exactly are the ministry's plans?

According to Minister Dzamesi, the ministry plans to facilitate mass travel to various Biblical sites, many of which are in the Middle Eastern country of Israel, although some exist in other countries as well.

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The organization will act as somewhat of a travel and tour agency and host #Christian based itineraries. Some of the things on the agenda would be daily prayers at various Biblical locations, worship on Mt. Camel, and boat rides on the Sea of Galilee, just to name a few.

The backlash

The criticism comes from Ghanaians who feel as though it's inappropriate for the government to involve themselves in religious practices, especially if they haven't offered to fund the practices of other religious groups as well. Other critics have pointed out that, as Christian groups in Ghana operate tax-free, they should be responsible for funding their own pilgrimages.

Some backlash has come from the fact that the Christian faith does not explicitly require any kind of pilgrimage — like Islam which requires devotees visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

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While this side of the debate leans away from politics and goes into the subjective territory of personal belief, it could still raise legitimate concerns about the ways government endorsements can potentially cause certain groups of people to feel ostracized.

Where the Ministry will go from here

Leaders of The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs and other affiliated groups have made it clear that they have no intention of backtracking. They claim they received the invitation from Israel and other Christian pilgrimage locations back in 2012 and that they'd been sitting on it for years due to various transitions in leadership.

The Ministry has stated that they would not want the future trips to create a burden on Ghanaian taxpayers. The General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Opuni Frimpong, announced that the organizations involved would not accept any expenses that would fall on taxpayers.

He also claims that the Ghanaian government will not sponsor any of the trips, although many citizens are skeptical.

US Religious Policy.

This government question spawns one in the US as well. Should government and religion be separated or should they work together with one another? In this case, Christians would be using Ghanian taxpayer money to go on trips. As a US citizen, would you want to pay for members of another religion to go on pilgrimages? Food for thought.