Scroller Image
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Scroller Image
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat

Change a must, says ex-diplomat

The church needs to stop being “ignorant” about the plight of poor people who are “slaving” to keep their “so-called heavenly masters” happy. That’s the opinion of a former diplomat who says he is fed up with the church’s denial of pressuring its members to give.

The former diplomat who asked for his name to be withheld for “obvious reasons” says the church should be bold enough to “at least admit” that it contributes to hardship within families.

He was “disgusted” about comments from the Secretary General of the Methodist Church, Reverend VaiaoEteuati, last week, where he defended the church against accusations that it was contributing to the growing incidents of theft in Samoa.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Rev Eteuati said; “People are not obligated to give to the church.  It is the aiga system and the matai system or matafale where people are asked to give to the church by heads of their families.”

Rev Vaiao said the Methodist church encourages people to give only what they can.  He said people feel obligated to give because they see it as a responsibility but this responsibility should be based on what they can afford.

“Many don’t understand this and this creates the problem because they offer to give, but they have nothing.”  He said the Methodist Church “hardly asks individuals to donate.” The former diplomat disagrees. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that in Samoa many families are struggling because of the church,” he says.

“Yet the church continues to play the tune of ‘it’s not our fault.’ I find that irresponsible, uncaring and ungodly.
“How can the church say that when so many people are complaining about the financial activities they are a required to contribute to on a weekly basis?

That’s lying with your eyes wide open.”
The former public servant who is also a deacon at one of the mainstream churches says the time has come for the church to seriously reconsider its priorities.

“Is it money or God?” he asked. “The way it appears at the moment is that money comes first. Many people are staying home because they don’t have money to give to the church. They are ashamed because they have nothing.”

The church has to change the way donations are acknowledged, he urges. “Announcing the donations is a big part of the problem. As Samoans, we are proud people. No Samoan wants to give less than the other Samoan so the spirit of competition is always active.

“When you announce these donations in front of the congregation, you are encouraging that spirit. Why can’t people just put their donations in an envelope and give it to the pastor or whoever is in charge.

“The idea of a donation is an offering people are making to God. It’s supposed to be a matter for

the individual and his God. What Tom gives is none of Harry’s business. That’s why it must be private.”

Asked if this will not compromise transparency and accountability, the former diplomat says; “Offerings are an issue of the heart. The church can always present it accounts later to say how much has been collected for that particular Sunday.” 

The former diplomat acknowledges that giving to the church is important because that’s what the Bible said. “But it must be done in a way that pleases God. The way it is being done at the moment is a show. It’s about who has got more money than the other and that I’m sure doesn’t please God.”

The issue of church donations became a hot topic after the qwner of Le Vai, Fatima Strickland, called on the authorities to reduce the demand on local workers.
Ms Strickland said people should only give what they can to cultural and church obligations.

Vice President of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce, Papali’i Grant Percival agrees.
He said there was a lot of pressure on local workers to give “until it hurts” to the church and family fa’alavelave.

There needs to be a collective look at how much a person can actually afford to pay for a church donation or fa’alavelave.
“The cultural demands continue to grow and each year the church is expecting more money in various collections.”

In Parliament, Tautua MP, LevaopoloTalatonu accused the church of causing financial hardship for thousands of Samoans. He blamed contributions and donations for causing money problems in families. He said parents make “poor decisions” when it comes to giving to the church.

As a result “children have to sell goods late at night while others can’t afford to attend school.”
“About 50 to 60 per cent of family income they put aside for church contribution and another 30 per cent is what they spend on themselves,” said Levaopolo.

“That 30 per cent is the only revenue that goes back to the government and that goes back to the country’s development. However the other 60 per cent which is tax free stays with the churches.”

Minister of Agriculture, Le MameaRopati hit back saying the churches are not holding on to the money.
“It is being given back to them through many different ways,” Le Mamea said. “The CCCS in particular donates $100,000 every year to the Kidney Foundation.”

Le Mamea advised Levaopolo to stay away from criticism of the church “where blessings are coming from.”
Asked to respond to Le Mamea’s comment, the former diplomat said; “We cannot stay silent when we continue to see so many people suffer on a daily basis.

Yes the church belongs to God but people have ruined what God intended for the church. That’s why changes must be made.
He concluded; “The mainstream churches are often wondering why so many young people are moving to new line churches. I

sn’t it obvious? Children grow up to see their parents stressed out by the financial pressures. They don’t want to do the same thing all over again. They want a new start and that’s why they leave.”





Read more