Use religion to fight environmental challenges – Professor Awuah-Nyamekye

A Professor of Reli­gion and Environment at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Professor Samuel Awuah-Nyamekye, has called for the adoption of a holistic approach of religious ecological practices in addressing the challenges of envi­ronmental degradation.

He explained that religion could be used in addressing some of the ecological challenges the country and the world at large was facing.

He however indicated that, religion if managed well could play a key role in salvaging nature, saying, “we must take note of this fact if we are to holistically confront the environmental challenges of today.”

“The theory underlying the link between religion and environment is that an individual’s interaction with the eco-system is often conditioned by religio-cultural beliefs and practices,” he stated.

Prof. Awuah-Nyamekye made the call at an inaugural lecture held at the campus of the University on the topic; ‘The nexus between religion and environment: Matters arising.’

He therefore, called on the government to factor in the inputs from the religious organisations when designing any policy which was mostly science ridden to deal with the self-inflicted environmental albatross the nation was currently grappling in.

Measures, he indicated, should be put in place to integrate religious environmen­talism and environmen­tal ethics into the nation’s educational curric­ulum for the youth to appreciate the need to conserve nature.

According to him, Ghanaians must come together to fight the current environmental challenges confronting the country.

“When we heal the environment, we heal ourselves and talking or preaching about God without the wellbeing of the environment is a disservice to God and humanity. Anything short of this is ungodly,” he said.

He explained that, legislations and policies had not been able to resolve the environmental chal­lenges in the world.

He also explained that, some of the religious traditions particularly, traditional African religion, was more based on fear or respect for ancestral spirits than on respect for nature itself.

He therefore, called on scholars to re-examine religious people’s attitude to nature if religion was to re-emerge as a stronger environ­mental force in today’s global stage.

Prof. Awuah-Nyamekye further explained that there was a link between religion and the environ­ment.

He called for further research to establish the best way of integrat­ing religious ecological values into that of science so that the world can holistically resolve the environ­mental problems confronting it.

Traditional authorities should remind their subjects on special events such as festivals of the need for them to conserve their environment.

Religious leaders, he said, should also devote at least five minutes of their allotted time for preaching to talk about the environment during their days of worship.

That, he said, can go a long way to affect the environment posi­tively, saying, “to me, the impact will be far greater than the annual week declared by some religious denominations to carryout envi­ronmental cleaning and talk about the environment.”

Other believers particularly, Christians and Muslims, he said, should liaise with the traditional authorities to discuss how they can collectively preserve the environ­ment in a sustainable way rather than tagging one’s way of conserv­ing nature as idolatry.

Prof. Awuah-Nyamekye stated that the country had lost its forest cover over the years and explained that conscious efforts must be put in place to ensure a reversal of the trend, which he said, threatened the existence of all.


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