President Nana Akufo-Addo has dropped the latest hint that churches aquiring wealth could be taxed as he delivered stinging criticisms at some churches.
The President speaking at a synod of the Global Evangelical church at the University of Ghana, remarked that the church is becoming a pale shadow of what it used to be generations ago.
He observed that churches have shifted from charity to prosperity and said calls for churches and their leaders to be taxed are understandable.
“The difficult truth once you get into the wealth and prosperity sphere you necessarily slip into the tax and accounting.”
“When you step out of the charity sphere, out of education, health care you are putting yourself in the line of the tax man,” he repeatedly admonished.
Ghana’s leader lamented that the church used to be the moral and socio-economic conscience of society when it paid particular attention to leading campaigns like cleanliness and godliness while investing in schools and health services.
“The church preached and practiced.” He chose a past tense word to describe a dwindling adherence to doctrines that promote modesty and a pro-poor posture.
President Akufo-Addo said some churches in Ghana now “compete to show who is more powerful and rich.”
Some church leaders have flaunted their cars and houses as blessings from God and urged believers to expect similar blessings even as they give bountifully to God’s work.
The President, an orthodox Christian, said the average Ghanaian who goes to church can no longer identify with the lifestyle choices of their church leaders.
The President declined to name and shame, he said but added that “some of the churches appear to forget about the poor and vulnerable.”
He also expressed worry about excessive noise pollution during church services such as all-night. These days, churches have been “keeping whole communities awake night after night” through bluring microphones, drumming and playing instruments to disturbing levels.”
The President’s call is expected to re-ignite another debate about churches and taxes.
In November 2017, deputy Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame also dropped hints government will be collecting taxes on irreligious activities of churches.
At the height of Ghana’s energy crisis, the Finance minister Seth Terkper in March 2014 said churches that have ventured into businesses will have to pay tax.
The minister while inaugurating the Ga Presbyterian (GAP) Micro Finance Limited of the Ga Presbytery Church of Ghana in Accra said;
“Jesus Christ instructed His followers to pay tax and obey the laws of the land. So religious bodies that operate profit making businesses must respect the laws governing the country.”