Apparently, Ugandan Catholics have not been paying their church tithes in good time and measure, and the Archbishop of Kampala is having a cold sweat.
Citizen Kenya reports that Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga urged the Ugandan government during a Sunday Mass held at the Rubaga Cathedral to immediately begin deducting a 10% tithe from the monthly salaries of all Catholic believers to ensure the church’s work does not stop because of lack of funds.
According to the report, the top cleric had few nice words for Catholics and Christians in general who are not paying the right tithe as commanded in the Bible. The Archbishop, who was ordained as a priest in 1978, argued that many Catholics were instead giving whatever they happened to have in their pocket. This impeded the Church’s projects and activities.
“We lie to God that we pay church tithe off our monthly salaries, but during a Mass like this, whenever we ask for tithe, everyone gives only what they have at that time. The Bible says a tenth of whatever you earn belongs to the church, and you should give me support as I front this proposal because it is good for us. Aren’t you tired of putting money in the baskets all the time?” he said.
Lwanga is, therefore, proposing that the government be allowed to collect tithe on behalf of the church, a typical system that exists in Germany where 8-9 percent of churchgoers’ income is deducted and channelled to the respective faiths.
“I was told Germans made agreements with their government to deduct monthly tithe from their salaries and forward it to the church. The money is used to build and renovate their churches. If an employee in Germany gets $10,000, the government deducts $1,000 and gives it to the church, and it is working very well,” said Lwanga, who also serves as chairperson of the ecumenical Uganda Joint Christian Council.
The Germany church tax has generated record revenue for the Catholic Church there, according to the German Handelsblatt newspaper. Kasatintin.com’s investigations reveal that it has raised £5.4 billion ($7 billion) in 2017 alone.
Several other European nations also collect religious taxes, which are sometimes voluntary, according to the Pew Research Centre. Sadly, the policy has been globally blamed for driving millions of people to leave the faith. Over 2.2 million Germans have formally deregistered from the church since 2000.
Although the adoption of the German church tax could help the Ugandan Catholic church raise substantial funds to support church projects and essential activities, it has not been universally admired with many Catholics protesting that giving to the Church should be voluntary.
“Any believer who is not paying his or her tithe has no space in heaven. They are stealing and cheating God. So there’s no need of forcing believers to pay tithe through government,” said Pastor Moses Mugisa of Redeemed Church of God, a Pentecostal church.
Other Ugandan Christians questioned the church’s motives, saying a church tax forces poor people to fund extravagant lifestyles for some priests and bishops, while protestant pastors stated that such an idea was ‘driven by greed.’
“Why should the church keep asking for money all the time?” asked school teacher John Mayanja, 46. “We are supposed to give tithe willfully and without any threats from our church leaders.”
Some vowed not to support the idea, saying the Bible does not sanction governments to collect tithes and offerings from worshippers.
“I want to ask the government to revoke credentials of any priest or bishop that petitions it to help them collect tithe. The clergy are working purely for material reward, and we’ll not allow them to mislead the country. The role of priests is to collect tithes and offerings. It’s not a political role,” Cyrus Rod, a bishop at Dominion Temple International, a Pentecostal church, told journalists.
John Mayanja, who teaches at Kitante Primary School in the East African nation, along with other Catholics said they will oppose Lwanga’s proposal because they believe it goes against Catholic teaching.
“God does not demand a certain amount of money from his people,” said Mayanja. “We give offering and tithe from our hearts. What our leaders are doing is extortion and is not based on the word of God.”
But Archbishop Lwanga has fired back at critics, saying his comments were misunderstood. By comparing Uganda to Germany, he said that he was merely explaining that government assistance in tithe collection had “worked elsewhere, and I believe the same could effectively work here”. He said he asked the congregation whether they would support such a scheme for Uganda’s Catholic state employees. “And the response was a big and wholesome yes,” he said.
He added that his concern was more moral than financial.
“I was only urging Catholics within the Archdiocese of Kampala to go an extra mile in adhering to the spiritual obligation,” he said.
The idea of deducting tithes from salaries was also widely supported by some Ugandan officials who are also Catholic believers. Many dismissed the archbishop’s critics, saying Lwanga’s suggestions were based on Scripture.
“The archbishop was reminding the church and only Catholics that they need the money to run church activities,” said Betty Nambooze, a legislator representing Mukono, a town in central Uganda.
Meanwhile, Youth and Children’s Affairs Minister Florence Nakiwala said that no request had been made to parliament, but said that its doors were open to it.
Catholics are Uganda’s largest religious group, but their share of the population has declined slightly in recent years. In 2014 census, they made up 39.3 percent of the population, down from 41.6 percent in 2002. Around 32 percent of Ugandans are Anglican, and 14 percent are Muslim.
Watch the report below
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