17 Jul 2018

Samoa PM on attack again as church tax rebellion goes on

6:11 am on 17 July 2018

Samoa's prime minister has continued his criticism of the leadership of the country's largest church, as a dispute over income tax grows increasingly heated.

On July 1, a new law kicked in which requires church ministers and the head of state to pay income tax.

But pastors for the Congregational Christian Church are refusing to pay, saying their income comes from donations - and that paying tax is an affront to their faith.

Last week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi didn't rule out seizing the assets of noncompliant ministers.

In an interview Tuilaepa said he feels sympathy for church leaders who "spill out odd biblical views" that "expose" church elders "to public embarassment and ridicule."

He said most people in Samoa support the law, and the elders' position may in part explain why the Congregational Christian Church's membership has been falling.

The church is yet to respond.

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