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Still Selling Indulgences in 2012

September 28, 2012

Below is an interesting article from the Associated Press about the “church tax” in Germany.  That’s right, “church tax”.  At first glance, I thought this was only about the Roman Catholic church, but I quickly discovered that Germany collects a tax from those who claim church affiliation and then redistributes that money to the churches/synagogues based on the affiliation of the tax payer.  Many have disavowed church membership to avoid paying this tax.  The article states that the Catholic church refuses to perform baptisms, etc. to those who don’t pay the tax.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the protestant churches have similar practices.  The practice of the government having financial control of money intended for a church has all kinds of possible negative ramifications (see the establishment clause  and the free exercise clause in the first amendment of the US constitution), but the one that comes to mind here is the similarity to the practice of selling indulgences.  While technically, these aren’t “indulgences” which was paying money to avoid penance or shorten the stint in purgatory (and which the Catholic church has reinstituted, by the way), the practice of withholding the ministry of the church from non-tax payers is essentially the same thing, if you believe the false teaching that somehow an institutional church has authority over your salvation.

No tax, no blessing: German church insists on levy

No sacraments without taxation: German churches exclude believers who won’t pay religious tax

BERLIN (AP) — The road to heaven is paved with more than good intentions for Germany’s 24 million Catholics. If they don’t pay their religious taxes, they will be denied sacraments, including weddings, baptisms and funerals.

A decree issued last week by the country’s bishops cast a spotlight on the longstanding practice in Germany and a handful of other European countries in which governments tax registered believers and then hand over the money to the religious institutions.

In Germany, the surcharge for Catholics, Protestants and Jews is a surcharge of up to nine percent on their income tax bills — or about €56 ($72) a month for a single person earning a pre-tax monthly salary of about €3,500 ($4,500).

For religious institutions, struggling to maintain their congregations in a secular society where the Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, the tax revenues are vital.  (read the entire story here)

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV)

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)

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