Christians with the publication of newspaper advertisements saying Jesus Christ supported the paying of taxes, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, April 27. A Half-page advertisement said that when Jesus was asked if he was against a law requiring the payment of taxes to the Roman emperor he replied: "Pay the emperor what belongs to the emperor and pay to God what belongs to God," quoting from the Gospel of Matthew (22:17-21).
It continued "all Christians should follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. This week: pay your taxes," the French News Agency (AFP) reports. The advertisements have reportedly provoked the anger of Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population of the west African nation.
AFP quoted Anglican priest Thomas Carew as saying he could not "believe his eyes" while the Methodist pastor Cyril William reportedly described it as "blasphemy" and called on the tax department to drop the ads.
A tax department spokesman stressed the initiative "was to encourage people to pay their taxes as soon as possible," AFP said. The government apparently needs more money to rule the impoverished nation where average life expectancy rates are around 43 years.
Adding to its financial difficulties was the 1991 to 2002 civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people, one-third of the population, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
National elections were held in May 2002, however the government continues to "slowly" reestablish its authority, the CIA said. However most Christians in the country are poor with little or no money to pay tax, and many of their churches have been destroyed during years of fighting, reports suggest. (With reports from Sierra Leone and BosNewsLife Research).