Would Ugandans Embrace a Church Tax?

The Observer recently reported that Rakai archdeaconry church members were leaving the Anglican church for Pentecostal churches that had programmes addressing poverty (see, Anglican church followers leaving due to poverty).

What Christians these are! Their love only lasts as long as the church is rich, or as long as richer churches don’t come along. Also, talk of man not living on bread alone. I wonder whether what they have is faith or opportunism (which a great many of us have. I too will admit to having a touch of it.)

Their story brought to mind Christians of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland, who have to pay church tax.

Have you ever heard of or even imagined that?

If someone identifies themselves as Anglican, Catholic or as a member of a national or recognised church in those countries, that person has to pay a church tax. In some countries, such as in some cantons in Switzerland, the tax, which is as low as 0.8 per cent of a church member’s income in some countries and as high as 9 per cent in others, is voluntary while in others it isn’t.

Where a church member does not pay the tax where it is involuntary, they may be forced to leave the church or will not be given sacraments. Some German Catholics have been known to refuse to pay the tax and continue to receive sacraments such as Penance and Holy Communion. This led to the church threatening that it would stop giving church tax defaulters sacraments.

The reasons for asking Christians to pay church tax are noble in Austria, Catholics pay church tax to keep the church independent from the state. In other countries, the tax is used to pay clergy’s salaries, fund church activities such as charities and maintain church buildings.

Of course, as earlier noted, some Christians and some non-Christians (as would be expected) are against the church tax. Would Ugandans, some of whom want to be provided for by the church (not that this is always wrong, especially where one is destitute), be for this tax? I don’t think so. In fact, I see some Christians withdrawing their Christianity or joining non-church-tax-paying churches if they were asked to pay a church tax.

As earlier evidenced, some Rakai archdeaconry Christians abandoned their church because it was not offering them financial assistance or means to get out of poverty these would likely be averse to paying a church tax as they want to be given and not taken from.

Some Ugandans also love churches where church leaders keep telling them that their financial breakthrough is on the way and then you tell them that they have to pay church tax?

However, especially in Pentecostal churches, paying a tithe of 10 per cent on members’ incomes is a widely agreeable practice among Christians and is viewed by many as a tax. Msgr Gerald Kalumba of Christ the King Church in Kampala admits to priests needing allowances to buy food and other basics but he thinks Uganda is not ready for church tax.

“We are not organised. We don’t know our population [and do not know who belongs to what church.] I am also uncomfortable with the word tax,” he says.

Source : The Observer

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