Believe it or not, churches are literally competing with the Food Industry in this country in terms of how much revenue they generate. As humans we have been made to understand that food is nourishment for our bodies and spirituality and religion is meant to be nourishment for our souls. However in this country, religion has become more addictive than any fast food you can think of and in turn, those who sell (yes, sell) religion to ordinary Kenyans are making more money than
the cartel within cabinet that sold us contaminated maize and milked dry the free primary education accounts you can possibly imagine. In fact setting up a church or being involved in running a church seems to be so lucrative that people like Esther Arunga decide to quit their TV careers to enter the cashed church industry in this country (yes, industry).
She didn’t do it for the nourishment of her soul,
or the sweet-sounding saxophone of the pied piper of Runda Big-Jaw Hellon she did it for the money. In fact, although Arunga may sound crazy, her career move was smart and she clearly must’ve acquired some business acumen from all those teleprompter business news reports she was reading at KTN. Anyways, the church is a multi-million shilling industry in Kenya. If you don’t believe me, look at all the churches coming up all over this country, look at the land that is being bought, all the money that is being spent on advertising and promotion, all the money that literally drips out of the pastors, reverends, apostles, bishops, bishop-doctor-honourable’s that lead the faithful in worship (read: fundraising) every Sunday.
What really gets to me about these churches is that they make so much money in the name of spreading the word, but they don’t give back any of that money to all the genuine and needy causes that are literally in your face every time when you turn on evening news. I stand to be corrected but I never saw the Church or any churches do anything in way of actually monetary or material support for all the cases of drought, hunger, disease and not to mention both cases of IDPs both as result of the Post-Election Violence and the Mau Forest Evictions. All I see is church groups looking more and more like political parties, lobbying, holding press conferences, engaging in pointless activism, confusing Kenyans, denouncing the government yet doing very little to be part of the solution. Yes, I’m looking at you, NCCK.
Meanwhile we all know that when referendums/elections come around, the first charitable non- profit organization pressure-group to receive generous ‘donations’ are church groups. In short, churches are raking in some serious coin in this country from both local and international sources.
This is why I wish the KRA would team up with a few smart legislators in Parliament and figure out a way of taxing these churches of ours in Kenya.
Then again, this is Kenya where people hear the word “taxation”, they immediately see red and vigorously fight tooth and nail for their so-called ‘rights’. Yes, I’m looking at you, August House. But with the churches, I think there must be a push by both government and civil society actors to make sure that they are forced to give back all the money they pocket for themselves in the name of whatever supernatural being they claim to be serving. For instance, did you know that the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) in Kenya is run by a business entity known as the Seventh Day Adventist Co. Ltd (K)? Why on earth would you want to exempt such an institution from paying taxes?
All I’m saying is that its time for the church to start paying up. This must not be construed to suggest that I trust the KRA and by extension Treasury when it comes to spending proceeds from tax. I just think that if we have churches mushrooming out of nowhere like Finger of God Ministeries International Ltd that have their premises in posh areas like Runda, we already know they have money and there’s much more where that came from. Our government is losing out on a lot of revenue that is being generated by these faith-based religious organizations (read: companies). This is not rocket surgery and it should not be made to seem as complicated as accessing blood money from a Swiss bank account. These are our churches! We can’t keep giving up our tithes and offerings every time that bottomless collection bowl comes round without seeing where exactly aaall that money is going. And don’t give me that we-are-a-charitable-non-profit-religious-institution crap, its time for you to start paying taxes like the rest of us. Plain and simple. If not, next time you see a certain Priestess Esther Arunga campaigning for public office in 2012, you must just know the money financing that campaign came directly from your generous pockets via the Finger of God coffers, ofcourse.