Taxes, churches and the govt.

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Dear Editor,

Re: Taxes, death and clergy 

Malo Afamasaga mo le faasoa! I look forward to the continuation of your views, however, I see that the conclusion of your argument is somewhat anticipated: tax the clergy because they are citizens of Samoa too, who are earning an income (albeit from ‘donations’ from parishioners).

 I liked your coining of the phrase which I know as “E mamalu le aganuu i le Tala Lelei, E mamalu foi le Tala Lelei i le aganuu!” When you use the word ‘tua’ it has its own implications and applications that differ from ‘mamalu’ which adds again to the validity of your argument. 

My only concern at this stage is that you appear to be assessing ‘all’ faifeau or clergy as being ‘conspicuously enriched’ which I can only assume you are pointing towards the lifestlye that some faifeau are enjoying in regards to the ‘alofa’ or ‘peleti’ or ‘teutusi’ or ‘faaaloalo’ they receive regularly. I wonder, if you consider that for a church like the CCCS, not all faifeau receive the same amount of ‘conspicuous enrichment’. 

Take for example the faifeau in Fagaloa, or Manono, or Apolima, or Tufutafoe for that matter? How do you propose to proportionately, and/or fairly tax them? Also, you quickly disregard the validity of the argument of the difference in the work of the clergy to say a public servant working for the Government, or someone working in the private sector, etc. 

But, I challenge you to think more clearly as to what the faifeau actually have to do and the vast differences of their ‘calling’ to your own profession and vocation, some of which is common knowledge to all Samoans...

Yes, they may only have to prepare two sermons a Sunday, yes, they may only have to think about keeping the Autalavou relevant and dynamic, yes, they may only have to cater to the every increasing challenges of teaching young children the Gospel and keeping them interested in the church. 

Yes, they may only have to be readily available 24 hours, 7 days a week to attend to a death, or accident, or an incident within the village, or concerning one of their parishioners. 

Yes, they may only have to be ready to always be in the public eye regarding their moral conduct, and always be willing to answer queries or questions concerning their theological and/or spiritual beliefs. 

Yes, they may only have to also be concerned with any issues they have at home, with their wives, and children, and in many instances, extended families, and their children, and the children of the village they serve by extension as their Faafeagaiga Taulagi, or Tausi Matagaluega, or Tama Patele! 

Yes, they may only have to assist their own families in regards to faalavelave, faiga lotu, talanoaga, etc, even though they have already covenanted with their village church as their new family, and supposedly left their biological family behind! 

Yes, even though they have to uplift their families often due to the regulations of their church if they’re Methodist, or try and make things work politically and socially for the sake of their reputation as faifeau and faletua until they’re at least 65, in regards to the CCCS, and only officially break after 6 years, etc, etc, but maybe you are on to something...

Maybe, we shouldn’t consider these vast differences from those of us who choose our hours of work, and leisure, or who have signed employment contracts, arguable in a court of law, just because they are clergy, God’s Servants, the ones who are praying for Samoa without ceasing, the ones who are prophetically speaking into our sinful inclinations as fallen humanity?...Maybe, you are right?

Ia faamanuia le Atua i lau Afioga Afamasaga! Faafualoa e le Atua o manuia lou soifua!...Ia saga faatamaoaigaina e le Agaga o le Atua ou manatu, ma lagona aua se manuia o Samoa, nei, ma e lua!...Soifua ma Ia manuia!

 

Emanuel 

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