Is Samoa really founded on God?

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Dear Editor,

In this debate, I like the E.F.K.S. position as it resonates with the cultural basis for our nation which when Samoa became independent it removed the taxing of faifeau carried out by the colonial powers. 

Now H.R.P.P. wishes to bring it back. What is so hypocritical is they are using the E.F.K.S. as a scapegoat for the nation’s financial woes by insinuating that pastors are avoiding their fair share of the responsibility by failing to pay taxes.

It’s rather ironic that a government with a history of failure to disclose the financial status of the government is assuming the mantle of fair play. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. 

If the government were more efficient and fair in the execution of its responsibilities in the running of Samoa’s affairs, we would not be in such a bind where the government is so desperate to get money, that they have to tax the lafoga or alofa. 

What are the donations that the government seeks to tax? These are the offerings made by members of the congregation as symbols of their devotion to God. 

In Samoa’s history there was a special place reserved for the Faifeau as Samoa transitioned from Idol worship to Christianity. It is a relic of our past that carries with it a most valuable significance. 

This is how we came out of paganism and became united under Christianity thus ushering in a modern era of peace. For the last 56 years our people have maintained this unique balance that unified the culture and religion in a manner that established a foundation of stability for our nation. Samoa didn’t even skip a beat when it became independent because the transition from “old” Samoa and the “new” was such a smooth continuation of who we were. 

Samoa did not have the inevitable clash of cultures that put our culture down in the face of the western cultures. If anything we hardly noticed any change because our “tofiga” remained intact and with the ascension of the church to a status of respect the culture was never in danger. 

That allowed Samoa to move forward comfortably which was made possible because of the fact that our community was solidly founded on a foundation of two compatible ideas: Christian faith and the Samoan culture. 

They both were based on love and respect. In our culture these are the highest values we aspire to as is the case with Christianity. 

How convenient and how intelligent of our forefathers. 

But alas the impudence of power rears its ugly head in 2018. All the wisdom and intelligence of our forefathers is being removed due to a spoiled child’s determination to destroy our historical links to our past. 

The child wants to destroy the peace of the home for its own attention. I would like to know how is taxing the Church going to benefit the country? 

Is there so much money involved that it will alleviate Samoa’s financial woes or is it merely a self-aggrandizing show of strength? 

I doubt the benefits of taxing the church will bring much benefit. All I see is a bucket of crabs. By undermining the cultural value of the church the government now is also inserting itself into the exercise of religious devotion. 

A religious act by a member of the church is protected under the Constitution as the act allowed under freedom of religion...so long as it does not result in criminal behavior. 

By regulating the donations (as tax is a regulation) the government now is interfering with that devotion. The freedom to donate for the purpose of faith now will be second-guessed as the donating person must also include the government in their donation. 

It will cause the donating member to pause and perhaps decide not to donate as the donation is contaminated now. The government has inserted itself into an act of pure devotion and is profiting off of this devotion contrary to the nature of the freedom of religion. 

This is a burden on the church that will weaken it and contribute to a loss of spirituality in Samoa. Persecution is expected for churches and Christianity has experienced a lot of persecution in the past but I never expected persecution from Samoa’s Parliament in the 2010s. 

And in Samoa of all places where it claims it is founded on God. Maybe we should change that motto.

 

Namulauulu Albert Ainu’u

© Samoa Observer 2016

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