Religion and Commodification: The Ghanaian Churches' COVID-19 Economy

  • Genevieve Nrenzah Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana
  • Michael P. K. Okyerefo Department of Sociology, University of Ghana
Keywords: Commodification, COVID 19, Church finances, Ghana, Religion


Ghana had its first COVID -19 pandemic victim in the second week of March 2020. This prompted the government to introduce restrictive measures such as a partial lockdown, which included halting economic activities, restricting movement, and banning public gatherings. Later, restrictions were relaxed to allow twenty-five people to attend funerals. These presidential directives, known as Number 1 in Ghana, meant a total shutdown of religious gatherings that constitute an economy of itself. While some church leaders tried to open their churches for worship and were arrested for doing so, most moved their services to virtual spaces to reach their members. The fascinating phenomenon that emerged was the creative ways various religious leaders used to monetise the services offered to members. Using the cyber-ethnographic method, we examine the various means deployed by five selected churches to manage church finances and membership. The results show that the churches' monetary interests and survival strategies were paramount amidst the pandemic. The financial, spiritual, and physical well-being of members/clients was dominant at the time.