An Adventist pastor is urging members of his church to pay their taxes as it is a form of obedience to God.
'Give Caesar what is due to him. Pay your taxes!' said Pastor Roberto Herrera while addressing a religious liberty rally at Spanish Town Seventh-Day Adventists.
"We should not be careless with this. As Christians, we must recognise the Government that is established and allowed by God. Jesus is in favour of governments who provide peace, prosperity and liberty to its citizens. We need to pay our taxes so the Government can provide for the necessary education, health, youth development and other State support and also exist as a government," he said.
Herrera's call was made a week ago, after the tabling of the first supplementary estimates in the House of Representatives. However, it has added significance in light of the $16.4-billion tax package Government announced on Tuesday.
The package, which has drawn the ire of the Opposition and has been met with general shock and outcry by the public, includes increases in property and education taxes, some customs duties, as well as on taxes levied against lottery winnings and telephone calls and cards. It also includes the lifting of $45 billion from the National Housing Trust.
Referencing Matthew 22:21 which says "render therefore unto Caesar the things of Caesar's; and unto God the things that are of God", the Pastor appealed to the members to be good citizens of Jamaica and to respect the authority of the land.
"Follow the laws of this country," he exclaimed.
Conversely, he said, Government should honour its position of leadership by respecting the rights and freedoms of the population.
"On the other hand, the Government must ensure that they respect the rights of its citizens and with regards to their freedom of conscience, worship and religion, those are the things of God," he declared.
Herrera is director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department of the world church's Inter-American Division and secretary general of International Religious Liberty Association for Inter-America.