CHRISTIANS are coming to terms with the idea of voting on a Sunday, and already, several Christian denominations have outlined arrangements towards a successful polling day on December 7, 2008.
Speaking today on the issue, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Charles G. Palmer-Buckle, said for Christians, particularly Catholics, voting on Sunday was not an issue they had to come to terms with, but was a responsibility to be fulfilled.
He said the Catholic Church would liaise with the Electoral Commission (EC) for a smooth voting day, particularly on Catholic Church premises where voting would be carried on.
“Voting usually takes place on the compounds of church premises, therefore, there would be no challenges even as the exercise goes on and Catholics worship in the church buildings,” he said.
“We would definitely make sure that everything runs smoothly, with no interruptions,” he added.
Interviews with other leaders of some Christain denominations, confirmed that voting on Sunday was increasingly being seen as a a civic responsibility by Christians to be carried out together with the important Christian duty of worshiping with all the seriousness required on December 7, 2008.
Already some denominations have announced alternative arrangements to ensure smooth polling on that day.
For instance, the Assemblies of God Church has directed pastors to conduct brief services on that day in all their branches for to give worshipers ample time to vote, while the Christian Council of Ghana has also directed their member churches to liaise with polling officials to ensure a smooth process.
This is particularly for small churches with small compounds that also double as polling stations and also ensure worship arrangements that would not clash with the voting process in these areas.
Pastor Eric Ampofo of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), speaking on behalf of the Head of Pastor of the church, Pastor Menash Otabil, said the church conducted two services on Sundays, each lasting two hours.
“Our services are on schedule, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for the first service and 10. 30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. for the second and congregants can either attend church early and go and vote, or vote before coming to church,” adding that the day would pose no challenges for members.
The General Secretary of the Church of Pentecost (COP), Apostle Alfred Koduah, said the church was soon to make known its programme for the voting day to ensure a smooth day.
He was sure that voting on a Sunday would pose no challenges.
“We will surely manage it,” he said.
Despite the general acceptance of voting on a Sunday, other views are that the country has to adopt a system where voting is done on a day that does not conflict with the private endeavours of people.
In 1996, voting day fell on a Saturday and according to Pastor Joe Aaron Hagan, the Director of Marketing and Communications of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church, it posed a challenge to the church then.
At that time, he was Director of Religious Leadership and Public Affairs of the West African Union of the SDA Church. He and others wrote to their mother church abroad as most members were threatening not to vote.
However, the consensus reached was for members to live according to their conscience and decide individually whether to vote or not.
The SDA Church then also tried advocating a change in the voting day but that was not taken by the EC.
Pastor Hagan said Ghana had to change its voting day and adopt what was done in other jurisdictions where voting was done on a working day and not a weekend to avoid a conflict with the private endeavours of citizens.
For December 7, 2008, he called on all Christians to be calm and decide, based on their conscience, on what to do on that day.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2008, PG 35