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German Catholics can only remain in the Church if they pay membership tax, rules court
Merco Press ^ | 10/23/2013

Posted on 10/24/2013 5:39:53 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

Germany's Roman Catholics can only remain part of the Church if they pay a membership tax, a court has ruled. All Germans who are officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax, worth an extra 8-9% of their income tax bill.

This had been challenged by a retired law professor who said he wanted to remain a Catholic but not pay the tax. Last week, a new bishops' decree warned that anyone not paying the tax would be denied the right to religious rites. The German church levy was introduced in 1803 in compensation for the nationalization of religious property.

In 2011, the Catholic Church received 5bn Euros and the Protestant Church 4.5bn Euros from taxpayers, each adding up to the bulk of the churches' income, the BBC's Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans said.

He added that this arrangement, whereby the state collects taxes on behalf of religious groups and then reimburses them, was unusual in Western secular societies.

Hartmut Zapp, a retired professor of church law, filed a legal challenge in 2007, arguing that under Catholic doctrine, Church membership was determined by a person's beliefs and not by a financial relationship. The Freiburg University academic said he wanted to continue praying and receiving Holy Communion without paying the religious levy.

Judges at the Leipzig Federal Administrative Court, however, disagreed with Prof Zapp and ruled that there could not be partial Church membership. Their verdict follows a new bishops' decree issued last week, according to which anyone failing to pay the tax will no longer have the right to Holy Communion and religious burial.

Already alarmed by declining congregation numbers, the bishops were also pushed into action by Mr Zapp's legal challenge. They said refusal to pay Church tax should be seen as a serious act against the community.

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.

“This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church,” Germany's bishops' conference said last week, in a decision endorsed by the Vatican.

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.

“This decree at this moment of time is really the wrong signal by the German bishops who know that the Catholic church is in a deep crisis,” said Christian Weisner from the grassroots Catholic campaign group We Are Church.

But a priest from Mannheim in south-western Germany, Father Lukas Glocker, said the tax was used to do essential good works.

“With kindergarten, with homes for elderly or unemployed, we've got really good things so I know we need the tax to help the German country to do good things.”

While the decree severely limits active participation in the German Catholic Church, it does hold out some hope for anyone considering a return to the fold.

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.


TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Politics; Worship
KEYWORDS:
Germany's Roman Catholics can only remain part of the Church if they pay a membership tax, a court has ruled. All Germans who are officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax, worth an extra 8-9% of their income tax bill....In 2011, the Catholic Church received 5bn Euros and the Protestant Church 4.5bn Euros from taxpayers, each adding up to the bulk of the churches' income, the BBC's Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans said. He added that this arrangement, whereby the state collects taxes on behalf of religious groups and then reimburses them, was unusual in Western secular societies....

....Their verdict follows a new bishops' decree issued last week, according to which anyone failing to pay the tax will no longer have the right to Holy Communion and religious burial. Already alarmed by declining congregation numbers, the bishops were also pushed into action by Mr Zapp's legal challenge. They said refusal to pay Church tax should be seen as a serious act against the community....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.

1 posted on 10/24/2013 5:39:53 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

This is Orwellian. I guess the church does not want any congregants.


2 posted on 10/24/2013 5:47:55 AM PDT by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: Alex Murphy

Justinian. Charlemagne. The Hapsburg dynasty. The Holy Roman Empire rises again. This is why we have a 1st amendment prohibition of establishing state religion. The Founding Fathers studied history.


3 posted on 10/24/2013 5:56:00 AM PDT by SpeakerToAnimals (I hope to earn a name in battle)
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To: Alex Murphy

Massive civil disobedience will solve this. If every Catholic, Protestant and Jew drops out the church/synagogue income drops to near zero.


4 posted on 10/24/2013 5:56:02 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: headstamp 2
This is Orwellian. I guess the church does not want any congregants.

Not sure of the legal rulings in this case, but when I was stationed in Germany people were forced to pay a church tax. I'm not sure if everyone had to pay, or just those who attended a church, but even way back 30+ years ago church attendance was very poor. I would've thought that Benedict would've influenced the German government to do away with this tax, but taxes are hard to kill.

As an aside, there was also a tax on watching TV. Trucks with antennas would drive around, check if you were watching TV and cross check that with the tax records.

5 posted on 10/24/2013 5:59:49 AM PDT by The Sons of Liberty (Who but a TYRANT shoves down another man's throat what he has exempted himself from?)
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To: headstamp 2

What is orwellian was the STATE taking over religious property in the first place:

“The German church levy was introduced in 1803 in compensation for the nationalization of religious property.”

Nationalizing religious property? Only reason to nationalize anything is to give the state control, period. So effectively religion in germany is a function of the state no matter what they try to argue.


6 posted on 10/24/2013 6:01:10 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: Alex Murphy
This illustrates why there should be separation of Church and State.

There is no institution -- pure or corrupt -- that the State cannot make worse.

Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

Jefferson's tombstone omits reference to having been President, but includes authorship of The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom (1786) as one of his three major accomplishments. (The other two are the Declaration of Independence and founding of University of Virginia.)
7 posted on 10/24/2013 6:06:29 AM PDT by Skepolitic
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To: Alex Murphy

You Can’t Do A Thing If You Ain’t Got That Bling! Doo do do, do do do
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/bishops-suspension-a-symptom-of-german-catholic-churchs-wealth/2013/10/23/614ba5fa-3c00-11e3-b0e7-716179a2c2c7_story.html

You’ve Got No Right!
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/3012770/posts

You’ve Gotta Watch Where That Money Goes
http://content.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,2730781783001_2154323,00.html


8 posted on 10/24/2013 6:15:06 AM PDT by haffast (Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Jesus doesn’t require a tax, he paid the bill. This is crazy. I wouldn’t pay then just attend a house church!


9 posted on 10/24/2013 6:36:55 AM PDT by JSDude1 (Is John Boehner the Neville Chamberlain of American Politics?)
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To: Alex Murphy
The German church levy was introduced in 1803 in compensation for the nationalization of religious property.

In 2011, the Catholic Church received 5bn Euros and the Protestant Church 4.5bn Euros from taxpayers, each adding up to the bulk of the churches' income, the BBC's Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans said.

1803 to 2013.

I wonder just how much that church property was/is worth, and how much has been paid over the years?

If the Govt nationalized the property, and the Govt is "paying back" the churches for the nationalization, why do only religious people pay the tax?

10 posted on 10/24/2013 6:47:37 AM PDT by Col Freeper (FR: A smorgasbord of Conservative Mindfood - dig in and enjoy it!)
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To: Col Freeper

To put this in simple terms....everyone in Germany has a right to quit the Church Tax. The downside is from that day on...no church wedding, no church funeral, and no confirmation activity for your kids. The average guy (figure $35k a year)....pays roughly $500.

Now, from a historical prospective...folks in the 1980s....were not keen on quitting. They all wanted the funeral. Some made the decision after the wedding to quit and just accept the deal. Over the past twenty years...several folks have opened chapels and a number of lay ministers conduct funeral services for roughly two to three hundred bucks. This makes it interesting to quit and just accept a cheaper deal.

My observation (twenty-odd years) is that the Church Tax is dying off and income is less each and every year. It might take another fifty years....but Germany and it’s eighty million might dwindle down to 100,000 tax-paying Catholics, and ninety percent of the Catholic churches would dissolve into real estate market.

It’s all fair....if you don’t want membership....you don’t pay the tax. Just accept the consequences later when your funeral comes up.


11 posted on 10/24/2013 7:07:12 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: pepsionice

There is also the rise of the “Free” Churches. Churches based more on the American model of the congregant paying directly for the support of the church. There are a few Free Lutheran Synods that do this. They are small, but doing well.


12 posted on 10/24/2013 7:13:50 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Well...that explains why almost NO ONE in Germany goes to church!


13 posted on 10/24/2013 7:19:36 AM PDT by SomeCallMeTim ( The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them!)
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To: headstamp 2

I just think it’s strange that a secular (i.e., government) court claims to be deciding who is and isn’t a Catholic.


14 posted on 10/24/2013 8:10:07 AM PDT by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: redgolum

Eastern Orthodox in Germany also do not pay the tax. They are very traditional and have many strong communities.

It seems like a terrible burden to place on traditional German churches.


15 posted on 10/24/2013 8:39:41 AM PDT by cizinec ("Brother, your best friend ain't your Momma, it's the Field Artillery.")
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To: pepsionice
Thanks for the info. It provides some interesting current situation details.

I would still be interested in knowing the answers to my questions though.

16 posted on 10/24/2013 9:41:06 AM PDT by Col Freeper (FR: A smorgasbord of Conservative Mindfood - dig in and enjoy it!)
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To: Alex Murphy
The German church levy was introduced in 1803 in compensation for the nationalization of religious property.

Hey, we are going to take your property but to make up for it you have to pay a special tax as well.

What?

17 posted on 10/24/2013 9:45:07 AM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Proud Infidel, Gun Nut, Religious Fanatic and Freedom Fiend)
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To: Harmless Teddy Bear
The German church levy was introduced in 1803 in compensation for the nationalization of religious property.

Good point.

"In 2011, the Catholic Church received 5bn Euros and the Protestant Church 4.5bn Euros from taxpayers"

Did the German government seize all the property from all churches, Catholic and Protestant?

18 posted on 10/24/2013 10:33:04 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny.)
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To: Campion
I just think it’s strange that a secular (i.e., government) court claims to be deciding who is and isn’t a Catholic.

They aren't. What's strange is that the Catholic Church is joining forces with the government, by basing excommunication on tax receipts.

19 posted on 10/24/2013 10:35:10 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny.)
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To: Alex Murphy

Guarentees a steady income to the “churches.”

II lived there from 2004-2010. Learned the the Free Churches are doing just fine without government support.


20 posted on 10/24/2013 10:41:29 AM PDT by Gamecock (Many Atheists take the stand: "There is no God AND I hate Him.")
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To: Alex Murphy
Looks like they also took property owned by Synagogues since Jews were included.

I always wondered how the Nazis were able to track down people who were 1/4 Jewish. Now I know. Your religion was registered by the tax you paid.

21 posted on 10/24/2013 10:58:16 AM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Proud Infidel, Gun Nut, Religious Fanatic and Freedom Fiend)
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To: Alex Murphy

Seems like forcible simony.


22 posted on 10/24/2013 1:29:26 PM PDT by BlatherNaut
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To: Alex Murphy

The early believers had the right idea: meet in houses, search the scriptures daily, and wait for the rapture. After all, being a member of the Church the Body of Christ doesn’t cost a thing, He’s already paid our bill for us. Anyone who is foolish enough to stay in these man-made places of “worship” deserves what they get.


23 posted on 10/24/2013 1:36:21 PM PDT by smvoice (HELP! I'm trapped inside this body and I can't get out!)
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To: pepsionice
The net effect of this on the German people will be to increase the number of atheists every year, until the Church withers and dies.

Reason? Human nature itself. They may still believe in a God, but will whistle past the graveyard loudly spouting their atheism more as a means of their own self-justification than anything else. It will ease their fear.

It's a Faustian bargain: allowing the State to receive money from congregants and then redirecting it back to the Church. I say: cut out the middleman (the government)! Let the Church collect its own revenues.

Satan couldn't have thought of a more devious way to kill off Christianity in Germany. Hats off to Old Scratch for ingenuity. (Pity we fell for it.)

Sauron

24 posted on 10/24/2013 2:00:19 PM PDT by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: Alex Murphy
They aren't. What's strange is that the Catholic Church is joining forces with the government, by basing excommunication on tax receipts.

no they aren't

25 posted on 10/24/2013 8:29:32 PM PDT by terycarl (common sense prevails over all)
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To: muir_redwoods

Seems to me the German people are historically comfortable with their “Big Government” and “Strong Leaders”.


26 posted on 10/06/2014 7:35:06 AM PDT by pleasenotcalifornia
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