Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the pay-to-pray tax

German Roman Catholics are to be denied Holy Communion or religious burial or even be considered a Catholic if they fail to pay an 8% church tax.

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.
German bishops issued the decree which has just come into force ... pay to pray. The German Catholic Church, like the Catholic Church as a whole, has been hemorrhaging congregants in the wake of priest-sexual-abuse revelations. Germany is about 30% Catholic and departing congregants totaled 181,000 in 2010.

The taxation pressures have been brought further into focus by a retired professor of church law, Hartmut Zapp, "who announced in 2007 the he would no longer pay the tax but intended to remain within the Catholic faith." The battle between Zapp and the church is due in a Leipzig court tomorrow.

I see nothing wrong with charging admission to an event. Baseball, soccer, NASCAR, and even marathons do the same. It's a contractual relationship: I pay, you provide. But to suggest that I  simultaneously believe or call your activities charitable or compassionate or holy strikes me as egregiously self-centered: If you demand that sort of credulity, you can pay me for it ... maybe 8% would be a reasonable figure.

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