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Opinions of Thursday, 8 February 2018

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

The religious bodies must pay taxes

The church was rooted in the tradition of faith and belief in ChristThe church was rooted in the tradition of faith and belief in Christ

In the coming years, the role of the religious bodies will continue to be the progressive attrition of the people’s mental faculties, and the appropriation of their sense of logic, reason and rationality.

The country should therefore not entertain the illusion that it will benefit in any way from the religious disposition of the citizens. Rather, the nation will continue to go downhill with all these religious goons around. That is why they must be rigorously taxed to set off some of the patent harm they cause the country.

The posture of some Baptist religious leaders who approached me here in Austin to help them set up a church confirmed my belief that religion has no practical use for our people.

I set out clear conditions for them: I said that should the church focus on messages that would transform the lives of its members into responsible citizens whereby they would become honest, patriotic and decent people, I would happily help them to plant their church.

However, if they were going to preach abstractions about how the blood of Jesus washed away our sins and cleansed us of all evil; or how he was coming back to take us to the heavens, then I was not going to be a part of their religious fantasies.

In short, I requested for a commitment to practical Christianity as a pre-condition to helping them plant their Baptist Church here in Austin.

The leader of the group who had a Ph.D. in Theology, replied succinctly that the church was rooted in the tradition of faith and belief in Christ, and that its mission on earth was to preach about the forgiveness of human sins and the return of God’s kingdom.

He also emphasized that social work was not part of their priority, and that the salvation of the soul was their essential work on earth as they awaited the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to make all things right on earth. We parted company there and then!

The foregoing reflects the general attitude of all religious bodies, and it is enough testimony that their followers will not be part of any positive social transformation of the community.

At best, religious leaders will continue to be parasites that bleed the society for their sole advantage and profit while preaching abstract messages in which they themselves are too smart to believe.

But the churches, mosques and traditional shrines were exempted from income tax on tithes, offerings and other incomes on the notion that these bodies help to imbibe morality and ethics in the citizens; and improve their lives through charity work. But in these expectations, the religious bodies have miserably failed.

In Ghana, for example, rampant religious shenanigans, coupled with the desecration of the social fabric, make it obvious that religious organizations have had no positive impact on the character of the people.

If anything at all, they are at the cornerstone of the rot in the social fabric, promoting corruption, laziness, superstition and hypocrisy among the population.

Most Ghanaians involved in corrupt dealings pay huge tithes to the religious bodies which in turn shield them from exposure.

Citizens spend vast amounts of time in religious worship where they hallucinate that their prayers and fasting will turn around their lazy lives in which they have invested nothing.

Within the religious bodies themselves, a huge blanket of superstition has been imposed on the minds of the citizens wherefore they are made to believe in the dreams and hallucinations of nomadic people that died thousands of years ago.

As a matter of fact, the churches and religious organizations condone rogue behavior in families and communities by failing to educate their members on the natural consequences of their bad conduct.

Rather they are in the habit of ascribing all the misfortunes that happen to their members to the spiritual activities of their relatives: their mothers, sisters, aunts or stepchildren.

The religious bodies have also abolished independent thinking and logical reasoning and substituted them with beliefs and faith which have ensured that our people do not ask any questions.

As a matter of fact, the people have been made to believe that the fewer questions they ask, the more devoted they are in their worship of God.

So, we have a situation where the religious bodies have inflicted irreversible psychological dissonance on the generality of the people, making their minds too soft and gullible to think through any problem.

The result is that most of the citizens give a huge part of their moneys to these churches in the mistaken belief that they are donating their moneys to God.

Meanwhile, the leaders of these churches have been very lavish in their ostentatious living as a result of the moneys they have fleeced from their members. They are building their multi-million mansions and buying their expensive jets and luxury cars without doing anything substantive for the society.

Under these circumstances, it is obvious that the religious bodies no longer function within the terms of operation that motivated governments of nations to exempt them from income tax.

They are strictly engaged in for-profit businesses wherein they are selling mere vapor to the population in return for fantastic wealth.

In a very strict sense therefore, the Ghanaian people will be better off without these religious bodies that have deprived them of their capacity to think, turning them into mummified goons and lobotomized idiots that are always looking up into the skies for pies.

Religion is at the foundation of the ossification of the people’s minds, making it conceivable that our citizens, if allowed to exist for another thousand years, will not be able to become creative or innovative and go extinct altogether, as long as the reference point for their lifestyles are that of those who lived thousands of years ago in a foreign land far away from ours.

Therefore, those who are promoting religion in this country are simply not helping to improve lives or advancing the national progressive agenda. They are just advocating their own selfish interest which is the mere exploitation of the masses for gargantuan profit.

But one could also argue that as long as these members give their moneys and properties to these religious leaders for free, there is not much that the government can do to stop them.

After all, ours is a free, secular nation with prophylactic remedies for the free exercise of all manner of religions, or for the non-exercise of any religion.

But what we are arguing here is that the churches and religious bodies must pay their fair share of taxes. Whatever was the initial reason for exempting religious bodies from taxation on tithes and offerings and other coterminous incomes has attenuated over time, and as we speak, they are aggressively engaged in the rapacious corralling of the masses for their moneys which they in turn spend in opulent lifestyles.

That is why they must be broadly taxed as everybody else that does business for profit. After all, the wages of sin are not exempted from any taxation.

Moreover, those who are not preaching to transform lives right here on earth have no faith in what they are preaching to others; and their real intent is to mislead others in order to take a large chunk of their incomes.

I know this because I studied religion at the advanced levels, and those who study religion at the advanced levels are always made to understand that there is nobody coming from anywhere to change anything.

Thus, all that is being preached in those religious gatherings are mere lies, designed to give a degree of comfort to those who need the clutches of religion, or those who profit thereby.

Our government should therefore not hesitate to take its full share of this free money, if only to reverse the deleterious effects of religion on the minds of the general population.

Or at the minimum, the government could enter into a quid pro quo arrangement wherefore these religious bodies will show clear and convincing evidence of their social work in their communities for reciprocal tax credit.

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