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Ghana warning against harmful New Year prophecies

Police in Ghana have warned faith leaders against making traditional New Year prophecies which can cause fear, anxiety or death.

The right of freedom of worship must not violate the rights of others, the police said in a statement.

Critics say the order violates the constitutional right for freedom of religion and it is therefore illegal.

Millions of Christians often gather in churches to hear their pastors make proclamations about the new year.

The messages often range from optimistic projections to those warning of impending doom.

The police order came into force last year after the public was inundated by predictions of deaths and calamity, local news site My Joy Online reported.

In a statement on Monday, the police commended religious groups for their “cooperation” and for “adopting legally acceptable means for communicating prophecies”.

But Ghanaian lawyer Sammy Darko said the police order was “illegal.”

“It is not even up for debate or interpretation by the highest court of Ghana. No law in Ghana grants the police administration any powers to regulate prophecies in the country,” he wrote.

“Religious freedom is more than the ‘freedom to worship’ at a synagogue, church, or mosque. It means people shouldn’t have to go against their core values and beliefs in order to conform to culture or government unless it violates a specific law,” he added.

Mr Darko told the BBC that the police lost a case earlier this year against a pastor who had been charged for allegedly making an alarmist prophesy about a celebrity musician being shot.

“This was significant,” he said.

The police said they had adopted 27 December as Prophecy Communication Compliance Day.

“This day is being set aside to remind all of us to practice our faith within the confines of the law to ensure safe, secure environment, free of anxiety generated from predictions of impending harm, danger or death,” the statement said.

Source : BBC