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In Jesus' Name Ltd - TELL Magazine

In Jesus’ Name Ltd

church

In April 2023, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) demanded an apology from FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, makers of Peak Milk, for using the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as a metaphor to promote their product on Good Friday 2023. Subsequently, the management of FrieslandCampina WAMCO withdrew the advertisement and apologized to Holy Bible. Similar cases of using the name of God for commercial purposes abound in the history of commodities marketing. Matthew 21:12 gives a lucid account of Jesus’ condemnation and violent disapproval of merchandising in the house of God thus: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold…”
Arguably, no brand name in the history of commodities marketing has sold goods and services as much as the name of Jesus Christ; also, no scripture or book, in general, has sold more copies than the Holy Bible. The natural explanation for this phenomenal position in the global marketplace other than the mind-control essence of institutional religion is that the population of Christians compares favorably against other religions vis-a-vis the world population. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries conducted in 2010 by Pew Research puts the estimated global population of Christians at 2.18 billion. Bounced against the 6.9bn world population, the Christian Community constitutes almost a third of humanity. The current global demographics by number and percentage are as follows: Christians—2.2 billion followers (representing 31.5% of the world’s population). Muslims—1.6 billion (23.2%). Non-religious people—1.1 billion (16.3%). Hindus—1 billion (15.0%). Buddhists—500 million (7.1%). Indigenous religions—400 million (5.9%). Other religions—58 million (0.8%). Jews—14 million (0.2%). Within the global fold of Christianity, the demographics are distributed as follows: Catholics constitute 50%, Anglican 37%, Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental) Churches 12%, and Other Christian traditions. Irrespective of the variegated and sometimes conflicting interpretations of the Christian creed, they find theological commonality in the belief in the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The above figures attest to the global demographic superiority of Christianity. And with a 1.17 percent annual growth rate, it is projected that almost 3.33 billion people will identify as Christians by 2050 barring the current intellectual onslaught on the foundation of the faith. Again, Christians are geographically widespread; they are so far-flung that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity. It is therefore no wonder that the marketability of the Jesus brand either by way of tithes and offerings or sales of books, anointing oil, anointed handkerchiefs etc. has culminated in the Houses of God under the Christian fold ranking amongst the very rich organizations worldwide. Chew on this: Greek Orthodox $974b, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints $236b, Catholic Church of Germany $26b, Catholic Church of Australia $20.5b, Seventh-Day Adventists $15.6b, Church of England $11.97b, Church of Sweden $11.42b, Trinity Church $6.0b, Opus Dei $2.8b, Church of Scientology $2.0b, Holy See (Vatican) NA. Baring the figures for the Vatican, which is not available (NA), the worth of the Churches presented here is $1.4tn
In view of the above, the question is: Why should such organizations be exempted from taxation, especially given the personalization of the organization and the obscene display of wealth through the ostentatious lifestyle of the Pentecostal clergy? Regarding this phenomenon, this author once wrote thus: “From posh palatial parsonages, platforms, and pulpits of Pentecostalism, prosperity-preaching parasitic predator pastors and a plunderous pack of peripheral priests painstakingly and pontifically proselytize while practically pickpocketing and perpetually pauperizing the people”.
During a trip to Germany in May 2019, this author attended church service in one of the suburbs of Dortmund in the State of Northern Westphalia just to satisfy his curiosity regarding organized religion. This was especially so because Germany is the country of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the priest, theologian, author, hymn writer, professor, and Augustinian friar who was a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation and whose followers became known as Lutherans. There, two things struck him: (1) the very scanty population of worshippers in a humongous cathedral and (2) there was no collection of offerings; no trays were passed around or kept in a strategic location for people to drop their offerings, tithe, thanksgiving, etc.
On enquiring, the information emerged that Christianity has lost its hold of old and that offering, tithing, etc are illegal in Germany. Rather, what happens is that ten percent is deducted from the salary of every individual that indicated Christianity as their religion in their employment forms. The sum of the deductions is deposited in a fund from which all churches in Germany share based on predetermined parameters. Amazing!!!
It has been said that the only viable sub-sectors of the Nigerian economy are Politics, Banking, Education, and Organized Religion; the other sub-sectors are comatose, at best. Of these four sub-sectors, it is only organized religion that does not pay tax; meanwhile, most church workers labor pro bono as spiritual seed for heavenly favor. Operators of private educational institutions are subject to taxation. Occasionally, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) reviews their activities to determine if they are of public character. Where such activities are not of a public character, such institutions are assessed and taxed.
In view of the above, it would be improper for personalized organizations that display such opulence to be tax-exempt in a capitalist economy. There is therefore no justification for exempting them from taxation. On the other hand, the government should build in some mechanism to rein in the excesses and exploitation extremities of the priests, especially the Pentecostals. The German model should be studied for possible adjustment and adoption. If this is implemented, the frenzied proliferation of churches will abate and only priests who are really called by the Holy Spirit will be in priesthood, especially in Pentecostalism.
Osai is a Professor of Development Studies at Rivers State University,
Port Harcourt. He can be reached via Email: osai.ojason@ust.edu.ng or ozomogoosai@gmail.com.
Quotes:
1. The marketability of the Jesus brand either by way of tithes and offerings or sales of books, anointing oil, anointed handkerchiefs, etc. has culminated in the Houses of God under the Christian fold ranking amongst the very rich organizations worldwide.
2. Why should such organizations be exempted from taxation, especially given the personalization of the organization and the obscene display of wealth through the ostentatious lifestyle of the Pentecostal clergy?
3. The government should build some mechanism to rein in the excesses and exploitation extremities of the priests, especially the Pentecostals.

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