Poor families feel pressured to tithe


An Auckland councillor says churches in his area need to re-think the way they tithe low-income residents.

Manukau Ward Councillor Efeso Collins told The AM Show some residents have been forced to take out loans to keep up with the cost of tithing.

A tithe typically involves giving 10 per cent of a person’s income to the church.

He thinks the churches need to take a good hard look at themselves and think about whether they’re doing right by their community.

Collins has been speaking to the churches about it and has even told some of them they should sell up if they’re not full on Sundays and leave the area so the land can be used for housing.

“Even culturally we’ve got to look at ourselves,” he said.

The Newtown Budgeting Service in Wellington deals with 500 clients each year.

Manager Geoff Curson said many of its families are required to give 10 per cent to the church.

“So a family with a combined income of $900 has to cover rent, food, bills and expenses for their children, while still paying $90 to their church,” he said.

“I see the damage tithing can cause for clients. Some people are exceedingly generous on what they earn, especially on benefits and low incomes.”

Seventeen per cent of registered charities are churches or groups involved in religious activities. Tithing is a donation to a charity, meaning those donating can claim a tax rebate.


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