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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Tax my church but not because of the charlatans

Indeed, there are thousands of Churches in this country, it is also true that the news about the church in recent times have been largely negative.

Truth though is, the true Churches of God have conducted themselves well and keep contributing to the development of this nation in diverse ways. These Churches don't sell anointing oil at over the top price (more than standard market price) to exploit desperate people who need instant miracles to problems thinking and strategizing have failed to solve. The leaders of these Churches don't take consultation fees, they don't flaunt their Rose Royces and don't give lotto numbers. Most of these Churches have schools and hospitals that observe all the statutory obligations on the land.

Thankfully, they are the biggest Churches in the country. We also have some small one man churches that are doing the pure work of God in silence and then we also have the other group, the noise makers who sadly have become the yardstick for measuring Christianity in this country. Truth though is, these people are in the minority.

The population of Church of Pentecost alone is more than almost of all of these churches put together. Add Presby, ICGC, Roman, Apostolic, Anglican, SDA, EP Church, Assemblies of God, Baptist and countless others, including the compliant one-man Churches and you can be sure that Christianity remains very relevant in 21st Ghana and that problems of the church is overrated and based on a small sample size.



In the wisdom of the framers of our laws, the Church is supposed to meet the social needs of the people hence the NGO status it is accorded.

Such institutions don't pay TAXES because they are not for profit making. In spite of this, the Church should welcome direct taxation from offertory.

My Church, Pentecost, in spite of the many responsibilities should be glad to go the extra mile of paying taxes to fast-track the development of the nation if called upon. As a member of the Church, I don't have a problem if a fraction of what I give to support the work of God is given to the nation to develop. That is also the work of God if you ask me.

The Bible says that when the nation we live in prospers, children of God would also prosper. God was simply telling us to contribute to nation because it is in our collective interest to do so. Assemblies of God members won't be rich when Ghana is broke.

However, Churches should not be taxed because others are taking undue advantage of gullible people and making money out of them.



A Church that does Business within its structure of worship ceases to be a church because it has gone beyond the remit if it's operation as mandated by law.

Taxing Churches because others take consultation fees or their pastors flaunt flashy cars is akin to endorsing and legitimising the exploitation. If we have to make laws to prevent pastors from selling anointing oil beyond the original market price or pastors from taking any form of money outside voluntary contribution, we have to because it ceases to be a church when a price is put on the worship and the last time I checked, there's no law for such entities.

But the compliant Churches should be glad to pay taxes, God is not against the church doing more to support nation building.

There's a lot of money in the Church by way of offertory alone and a percentage of that would go a long way to support the nation.

I will be very disappointed should my Pastor or Chairman objects to this.

That said, the government has to come out with a proper plan to make the payment of any tax of this nature appealing. Personally. I don't think it is a good idea to put such taxes into the general pool of the consolidated fund.

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We can look at disability as an area. If we are taxing the Churches for instance, we can look at providing total care for persons with disability nationwide so that there's no one on the street begging due to physical deformity. Three square meal, education, healthcare, accommodation and training.

Look, taxing the Church can solve this problem and it'd perfectly fall in line with the humanitarian duty of the Church as enshrined in the Bible and the constitution. What even happens to the poor man's portion of the tithe paid in 21st century Christianity? Let's give that to the government.

The Church's impact would be felt even the more if this is done. God won't curse any nation that recognises the church as an important partner in development: this is how we Christians should see it.

That said, fraudsters shouldn't be allowed to dupe gullible people just because they come with the Bible. Serious nations regulate religion, freedom of worship without rules is dangerous, very dangerous and regressive as far as national development is concerned.

When it comes to religion, many people forget to think, therefore, the state has a duty to protect these vulnerable people.

The way forward is not to take a fraction of what is stolen but what is earned through the desire of worshipers to give.

We cannot use taxes to make wrong right. If so, then armed robbers are willing to pay taxes too because in truth, some of the so called men of God are worse than armed robbers.

Compliant Churches who are thankfully in the majority deserve to be taxed and they should feel honoured to do so, the charlatans have to be pushed out of business.