13 Apr 2018

Samoa's PM reveals he threatened churches with weekend shutdown

12:15 pm on 13 April 2018

Samoa Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has revealed that he threatened the council of churches with a proposed new law which would close the country down completely every weekend to allow Christians to keep the sabbath holy.

Speaking on national Radio 2AP yesterday, Tuila'epa said that a few years ago the Council of Churches paid him a visit with a petition to introduce a law that would stop people working on Sundays.

"So I wrote to them saying government was getting ready to introduce a new law that would allow all Christians to observe and keep the Sabbath holy by banning all work on Sunday," he said.

But he also told them that because other Christian churches observe Sabbath on Saturday which starts on Fridays, then the law would ban any form of work from Friday evening until Monday morning every week.

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi Photo: RNZ / Sela Jane Aholelei

"I said we would close all hospitals and send the patients to their homes, stop electricity generation and stop water going to homes because all the workers would not be allowed to work," he said.

In the end, according to Tuila'epa, the National Council of Churches wrote and said government should stick with current practices and not introduce the proposed law.

Tuila'epa was responding to questions about some church denominations still having issues over a new law which is forcing church ministers to pay income taxes.

He said once the churches understood what the law means and where their taxes will be used at, then they will accept why they are being taxed.

With the new amendment in place for church ministers, the only other people who still do not pay taxes in Samoa are farmers.