|Churches asked to give govt revenue|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Jul 17, 2012
A controversial Baptist pastor is asking his colleagues opposed to the legalization of gambling to support the establishment of a special fund, and make regular financial donations for national development programs.
Mount Calvary Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Philip McPhee said he is willing to donate 10 percent of his church’s collection every month to the public purse as the government struggles to increase sources of revenue.
He said for those who do not see the approaching referendum as a unifying option, “then together we [must] find a collective pattern that is acceptable to all”.
“I would be prepared to lead the way in setting aside 10 percent of our ministry’s contribution per month towards specific national developments,” McPhee said in a statement.
Noting that the government has a substantial revenue challenge, he said, “The churches already have the means to collect significant funds.
“We can bring together these pockets of economic systems and develop a singular corporate entity with specific, agreeable goals. So both the church and the state have the means to pool resources for specific national development.”
He said some people give offerings to churches only to be told that these churches can’t help them.
McPhee came under fire recently — in and out of religious circles — for saying he accepts donations from a numbers house.
The Christie administration plans to bring a gambling referendum by the end of the year.
If Bahamians vote in support of legalizing gambling then the government would tax the industry.
McPhee said clergymen opposed to the idea should come forward with solid plans for the country’s progress, including
committing some of their churches’ revenue to the government, instead of only talking about what they do not want.
He added that churches have a significant revenue stream that is untaxed like the illegal number houses.
“We all agree that the gambling houses, like the church, are significant sources of income, none of which are presently taxed or contribute up front to our many national challenges,” he said.
McPhee also proposes that the government “look at the National Insurance Board as an existing structure that collects resources and develop a national pool to assist with the various national challenges and needs”.
“This is a broad idea, and the experts can refine and develop it, but just as that entity is used in limited ways, the government can extend the usage of this vehicle to further develop our people. That to me is the role of the state.”
Two weeks ago, McPhee told The Nassau Guardian that he organized a meeting between ‘We Care’ — a coalition of web shop owners — and a group of about 20 local pastors, including three members of the Bahamas Christian Council.
After the meeting, McPhee said the pastors had become ‘sensitized’ to the contributions numbers houses make to national development.
The comments placed McPhee on the receiving end of criticism from members of the Christian Council.
Several church leaders have also denounced the upcoming referendum and have urged people not to vote in favor of legalized gambling for Bahamians.
However, McPhee defended his actions and said he meant to start a public discourse on the issue not a war with the Christian Council.
“It was not my intent then or now to pick a fight with the Christian Council or other pastors that have since called me out on this issue,” McPhee said. “But I would like to take this opportunity to call on all and sundry to have a real conversation on what is now before us.”
McPhee told The Nassau Guardian in an earlier interview that he has sent needy people to the operators of numbers houses for help and that a numbers house sponsored his boat in regattas.
McPhee maintains that he does not support gambling.