German Catholics lose holy rites for refusing church tax

Germany’s Roman Catholics are to be denied the right to Holy Communion or religious burial if they stop paying a special church tax.

A German bishops’ decree which has just come into force says anyone failing to pay the tax – an extra 8% of their income tax bill – will no longer be considered a Catholic.

Har! Welcome to the wonderful world of theocracrats.

All Germans who are officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax of 8-9% on their annual income tax bill. The levy was introduced in the 19th Century in compensation for the nationalisation of religious property…

Catholics make up around 30% of Germany’s population but the number of congregants leaving the church swelled to 181,000 in 2010, with the increase blamed on revelations of sexual abuse by German priests.

Alarmed by their declining congregations, the bishops were also pushed into action by a case involving a retired professor of church law, Hartmut Zapp, who announced in 2007 that he would no longer pay the tax but intended to remain within the Catholic faith…

Unless they pay the religious tax, Catholics will no longer be allowed receive sacraments, except before death, or work in the church and its schools or hospitals.

Without a “sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused,” the decree states. Opting out of the tax would also bar people from acting as godparents to Catholic children.

Until now, any German Catholic who stopped payment faced eventual excommunication. Although the measures laid out in the decree are similar to excommunication from the church, German observers say the word is carefully avoided in the decree.

Hilarious. The silly mess religious folks can get themselves into with even sillier self-important prelates. This sounds more like franchise law rather than a sociological or economic decision made within the confines of an ideology.

Religions established with state support that says they can collect taxes should have remained in the 19th Century, a final chapter in a state history book. I’m not surprised that one or another religion tries to convince adherents that their rules are above civil law. But. they certainly should be separate from the state – and the state should stop collecting taxes on their behalf.

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