Respected cleric and founder, International Church Growth Ministry, Dr. Francis Akin-John, has said that it is funny that some people have argued that aircraft is a tool for evangelism where majority of church members don’t have what to eat.
He thus supported the recent call made by ace lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana who said that churches should pay tax to the government.
The controversial lawyer made the call following the controversy generated by the acquisition of private jets by some eminent Nigerian pastors.
Akin-John while reacting said the feeling of the public about the church as a very wealthy organization prompted the human rights lawyer to make such call.
According to him: “Some people have argued that buying a new aircraft is like buying a new car. But I disagree. Those who are buying aircraft today, I don’t have any quarrel with that; it is their right. But they are sending the wrong signal to the body of Christ and the society.
“The society is getting a wrong impression of the church due to the ostentatious lifestyles of some church leaders.
“Some people said the aircraft is a tool of evangelism but in a country where there is abject poverty; where majority don’t have what to eat, would God provide a tool that would cost you about N850m to buy and N250m every month to maintain?
“People say they are using it for evangelism, is there an airstrip in every community? I am an insider; let me tell you the truth, people who invite pastors who fly personal jets are made to bear the costs.”
The seasoned preacher said he had received reports about pastors who have demanded from those inviting them to their areas or churches to foot their travel expenses, including fuelling their aircraft.
He said, “That is why I agree with what Femi Falana said that the church should pay tax. In a country where we have a responsible government, the source of wealth of these people must be scrutinised. “I don’t believe the church should pay taxes to the government because the church is a partner in progress with the government.
“But when the church is involved in private businesses such as mining, oil and gas, it should be taxed. Even when it is involved in universities and schools where fees are paid, it should be taxed. Those businesses should be taxed because that is where those people get the money.
“There is no church that can buy and maintain an aircraft from tithes. Most of the funds come from the personal businesses of their leaders or the money given to them as gifts.
“It breaks my heart when people say the church is making a lot of money, it is not true. When you look closely, such money does not come from the church but from the private businesses of the church leaders.”