Saturday, 10 December 2016

In Support of Abolition of Government Sponsorship of Pilgrimages and Taxation of Places of Worship in Nigeria

I support the resolution of the just concluded Nigerian National Conference to introduce taxation of places of worship in Nigeria and to abolish the government sponsorship of pilgrimages to holy places such as Jerusalem, Rome, Medina and Mecca. Sadly, some people have already started opposing it. How on earth do you tell a victim that he is being victimized? How do you convince an average Nigerian that most of these religious leaders are milking them to death in the name of God?

But, why should churches and mosques not pay tax when atheists and agnostics do? Democracy is all about equality and equity and if one is forced to pay tax, the other should not be exempted. Religion has done more harm than good in Nigeria and it should and must be forced to pay tax to repair the damages it has done to the nation so far. Almost every single unrest in Nigeria is directly or indirectly rooted to religion. All the obnoxious laws in Nigeria against the minorities especially the homosexuals are directly or indirectly rooted in religion. Even the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in Borno State is down to religion. If religion can be used effectively to cause trouble, preach hatred, propagate division and endorse the victimization of the minority, it can also be used effectively to generate much needed money that the nation is in dire need of to repair these harms, heal the nation and placate the victimized.

I so much doubt there is one good reason churches and mosques should not pay tax? Just look at the likes of David Oyedepo! Is it fair to our nation, equity, decency, good governance and democracy that a man openly known to be the richest pastor in Africa with fleets of luxury cars, expensive private universities and private jets is not paying tax simply because he is a ‘man of God’? If the poor civil servants are paying taxes why should the likes of Oyedepo not pay tax? And yet his conscience is not telling him that he is robbing both the Nigerian government and our poor folks! Oyedepo is an epitome of whatever is wrong with Nigerian religious leaders. They are rich beyond imagination, highly elevated like sacred cows and of course above the law. They rob the poor, wine and dine with the corrupt and fellowship with the oppressors of the oppressed in complete opposition to what Christ and His gospel stood for.

Religion is one of the main reasons Nigeria is in precarious financial situation today. It has retarded development in the country, elevated corruption and yet leaders of these religions are busy manipulating their followers and living scandalously on the contributions of these poor followers and taxpayers. Every right thinking person should be asking of what benefit is religion to the nation that it should be exempted from paying tax? In fact, there is no benefit whatsoever to the nation. Any benefit these religions bring goes only to their members and not the nation. You are more likely to be admitted to the Covenant University owned by Oyedepo if you are a member of his church just as a Muslim university would always think twice before employing or admitting anyone outside of their faith. Religion is therefore of no benefit per se to the nation to be exempted from paying tax.

I would therefore be happy if this noble idea is pursued and implemented. But then, if it is implemented the religious leaders would simply tax their poor followers the more. Education is therefore very important to persuade these brainwashed folks that their religious leaders are milking them to fund their opulent lifestyles.

These religious leaders have for so long abused their position. Give them handshake, they would want an arms length. Look at Boko Haram, they want a caliphate and people like David Oyedepo are slapping and assaulting little girls up and down the nation and getting away with it because they are religious leaders! And the part that is most sickening is that these so called religious leaders would allow the nation to sponsor their opulent lifestyle and sponsor their members (often handpicked rich donating members) on pilgrimages to Medina, Mecca, Jerusalem and Rome with money that should have been used to better the lots of poor Nigerians. I am even flummoxed that many Nigerians are against the proposal but then how do you convince a man in chain that he is actually in chain? Until he realizes that he is chain, any effort to set him free would be futile and akin to pouring water on stone!

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