Mixed reaction on Ministers' tax
The issue of taxing of pastors between the Government and the Christian Congregational Church of Samoa has received mixed reactions from the public. Our reporter, Nefertiti Matatia asked if it is right for the Government to take the church ministers to Court despite the values and ethics that the country believes in and they responded:
Tamalemai Salati, 68, Sataoa
The taxing of Church Ministers was not a right decision. I believe these are the people who are here to spread the Gospel. These are the people that have been anointed by God to be his mouthpiece here on earth. My question is why has the Government asked the Church Minister’s to pay their taxes, is it not enough that they are praying and fasting night and day for the peace and harmony of this nation? It is definitely not right with the way most of us see it and hear about it either. The Church Ministers are on a mission and that is for the Gospel to reach every Samoan and each soul that is in need. The Prime Minister has used his power to get what he is after but it is already enough that everyone else is paying taxes to the Government.
Ioane Foitua, 55, Lalomanu
I believe that Church Ministers should pay taxes. The reason I say this is because they will benefit in the long run. When they retire they will get pensions from the Government. There are some pastors who are not paying their taxes, while other Church Ministers pay their taxes, so it is suitable enough for everyone to pay their taxes. If we really think about it, all the money that has been cut from the taxes of the people goes into so many things that will benefit each citizen of this country and I mean their children as well. They attend government schools and some of them have been given the opportunity to travel abroad and the scholarships as well. So it is right and fair that everyone should pay their taxes.
Alapati Faaololo, 58, Toamua
I strongly believe that God is not asking us to give him money. Every penny that a person invests into the church or to the alofa of the Church Minister is from their own heart and will. They do everything out of love for the Gospel and seeing the hand of God in their lives and giving is their thanksgiving. I feel that it is not right that the pastors have to be taxed because the sweat of the people that has been given to the church is from the people for God. It is what the people have worked for and they want it to be their sacrifice to God. Giving your life to God, there are so many things that come with it, he blesses us. When God rewards a person it is eternal life and with the money that is given by people will decay.
Too Fineaso, 27, Falelauniu
I think that Church Ministers should not be taxed because these people are the representatives of God here on earth. The Government is not paying the pastors. They receive their income from the people of the villages and the community. So it is fair to say that it is their own income from the people as their sign of respect and also the pastors are not forcing them to give a certain amount of money to them, it is their own freewill. They speak peace to the community and hold the society together.
Tupu Sione, 52, Vaivase-Tai
It is hard for me to speak freely about this issue because the Prime Minister has used the Bible stating that Jesus paid taxes. But if we look back to the history of Samoa and our ancestors, the way they respected the Church Ministers they would never make such a decision. I don’t want to talk about it either, the honest truth is we are in the era of where everything is politics and that is how the Government we are in at the moment is being operated. If we think about it, Samoa has found their freedom through the blood that has been spilt for this nation and with our hope that our father in heaven will give our leaders the wisdom and strength to guide this nation through prayer. This feels like we are all being controlled by the Government and nobody has a say. Even in terms of the spiritual side the Government has gotten involved.