Churches should pay tax just as shebeens

By Shivute Kaapanda [Think Tank Africa]

With the current legal dispensation which does not classify churches as businesses but rather as
institutions of worship, morality and charity, majority church establishments have taken a ride on law and became focused on making real profits, capitalizing on many religious aspects to exploit the poor of their hard earned money.

If wealth assessments have to be carried out at specific churches the amount of wealth in
form of money and luxury goods would give a picture of what churches have become; churches have indeed strategized and became wealthier institutions of worship, run like any other businesses hence they should be regulated and pay tax just like shebeens for they make a lot of money and noise just like shebeens.

The modus operandi of churches has completely changed with the capitalist governments in control; the capitalist posture of today’s churches has puzzled majority thinkers and spectators in the local communities.

Churches have now involved themselves in the game of luxury competition. Instead of carrying out their mandates as supposed to, they indulge in dubious activities of milking money from the poor in the name of God; the new Pentecostal churches are even worse, they are run exactly like Shoprite.

To demonstrate this, there is one notorious Church at Outapi which is run with a kiosk outside selling foods and beverages to congregants and the public, all in the name of God.

In trying to make better lives, many local vendors take an opportunity to go sell their fat cakes, sweets and ice near church fences for the congregants to feed and refresh themselves after long hours of listening to the gospel, but this entrepreneurial idea of local vendors angered many churches to such an extent that these vendors were banned and some senior members of the congregation have to take up the selling of fat cakes so that some money can go to the church coffers.

In many instances local churches have accused kids of reserving their church offerings for fat cakes and sweets instead of donating it to churches.

This demonstrates the monster of churches and its appetite in making sure every opportunity in the community which involves money is tendered to the church.

Not only that, in northern Namibia churches administer themselves as supposedly charitable and holy while giving instructions to local households to donate money, bags of Mahangu grains, Mahangu flour, corrugated irons, Mahangu cakes, Beans and other valuable food items in exchange of blessings and so that households shall earn a good standing with the church.

You find church-abiding youths and pensioners sincerely donating their Mahangu, baskets and clay pots to the church because they want to earn the blessings of the church; they do not
know that these are just pyramid scheme initiatives of churches to enrich themselves for if churches were indeed charitable institutions they would donate these food items to the vulnerable but instead they take food from the poor and sell it to make money for the church.

The capitalist nature of the church is puzzling the most awaken members of the communities. It is from these events that government should keep a close look so that these institutions of God should not just pay themselves in the name of God but they should also pay to capitalist God (Government). They should be regulated and pay tax since they now became profit-oriented institutions of worship.

The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) has failed dismally on their ecumenical mandate to regulate and unite all churches to the extent that some churches even came to promote wrong orthodoxy based on personal and material values and not moral and community values.

Politicians are in bed with church leaderships; in fact they sip wine and chew bread of Holy Communion together while watching churches abandon their very primary mandate.

The most probable reason why churches are relaxed and became fearless capitalist institutions is because they have captured the state, even the rhythm of the gospel entrenches more of the spirit of capitalism than morality; at church money has become the order of the day, indeed in the name of the capitalist God.

The state of religion in Namibia need to face a litmus test, Churches should start paying to the State for what they make in the name of God.

> Shivute Kaapanda is an avowed atheist, philosopher and pan-Africanist from Eyanda village in Omusati Region. He can be reached at: