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Why JJ Rawlings banned Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses in 1989

In June 1989, the government of Ghana, under the Provisional National Defence Council administration of late former president Jerry John Rawlings, banned the activities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses.

The two groups and their missionaries were subsequently given one-week ultimatum to leave the country after they were accused of disturbing public order and threatening Ghana’s sovereignty.

The PNDC government under Rawlings in a radio broadcast said, “despite repeated warnings, the two sects have continued to conduct themselves in a manner which not only undermines the sovereignty of Ghana but is also not conducive to public order.”

Although the radio broadcast at the time did not provide further details on the directive, a report by desertnews.com said the Rawlings administration, as part of its resolve, also cancelled the residence permits for foreign missionaries and other workers in addition to closure of the churches.

Years on, the ban was lifted, following numerous intervention and engagements with the Ghanaian authorities.

Meanwhile, the presence of Latter Day Saints in Ghana has rapidly grown over the years with huge membership numbering over 100,000 across the country.

The Jehovah Witnesses have also gradually made their presence felt in a country that is now inclined to being religiously tolerant.

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