I didn’t know this, but apparently Germany has a really creepy law that assesses a higher tax to those who declare themselves adherents of a particular church, with the extra tax being given to that church. The German Catholic Church gets more than $6 billion a year from that policy.
Citizens can opt out of that church tax, but only by declaring that they are leaving their church. But as more and more people take advantage of that opt-out, the Catholic Church is forbidding them from taking part in church sacraments:
Germans officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax of 8 or 9 percent of their annual tax bill. They can avoid this by declaring to their local tax office that they are leaving their faith community.
The annual total of church leavers, usually around 120,000, rocketed to 181,193 two years ago as revelations about decades of sexual abuse of children by priests shamed the hierarchy and prompted an apology from German-born Pope Benedict.
“This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church,” a statement from the bishops conference said. “It is not possible to separate the spiritual community of the Church from the institutional Church.”…
Some Catholics have tried to remain active in their parish or have a religious burial despite leaving the church to avoid paying the tax.
The Vatican gave its approval for the decree before it was issued, the statement said.
Catholics who leave can no longer receive sacraments, except for a special blessing before death, the decree states.
They cannot work in the church or its institutions, such as schools and hospitals, or be active in church-sponsored associations such as charity groups or choirs.
They cannot be godparents for Catholic children and must get a bishop’s permission to marry a Catholic in a church ceremony. “If the person who left the Church shows no sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused,” it added.
In other words, you either give us a mandatory 8 or 9 percent of your income, or you don’t get to play our reindeer games. Jesus would be so proud. Apparently in Germany you have to render unto Caesar what the church demands you to pay. All of this is incredibly dangerous and creepy. Why on earth should you have to tell the government what religion you are? And why is the government involved in any way at all with what you give to your church?