What are the laws and politics about religion in your country? Do you have to pay church taxes? Is there a state-church or not? What about de separation between church and state? Culture, is belief and religion more culture than faith? How do local politics and religion mix?

Views: 63

Replies to This Discussion

I live in the Netherlands, in a city of 95.000 inhabitants. In city-hall Labourparty, greenparty and liberal parties dominate the political landscape for decades. Of course Christian Democrates are elected too, however in a minority. Nothing wrong here would you conclude.

We have four elections: 1. for the parliament, 2. for the provinces (region), 3. for the city or village and 4. the European Parlement. The head of state is a monarch. I guess, most European countries do have the same kind of elections. However, mayors of cities, gouvernors of provinces and all public officials are apointed by the monarch (on behalve of the governement) and we don't have referendum either. In my town only 1 seat (of 30) in the city-council is held by an christian party of a very rigid kind (Christian Union, not to confuse with the larger and more moderate CDA, christian democrates). By apointment we have a CU-politician as a mayor.

In general, the political culture, from politicians towards the public is: 'Daddy knows best'. For the good or for the bad. I think I live in the most paternalized country in Europe.
In the Netherlands we have article 23 of the constitution, freedom of education. This means that every group could found their own school(s) (with a minimum of pupils), the governement pays the bills as if it were public schools. This article was introduced around 1900. At first, the catholic and protestants founded their own schools and universities, paid by all taxpayers.

Today this is still unchanged. We have several public universities (such as in Leiden, Groningen, Utrecht and one in Amsterdam), protestants universities, high-schools, schools and even kindergarten and ofcourse the same for the catholic denomination.
This law is also used to create schools based on educational principles or 'new' religion, such as Montissori, Dalton, or the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, Hindu and Muslim schools.
The curriculum of the schools is determined by the school-board. Strict protestant schools tend to have their own 'education' about evolution-theory or history (such as the age of enlightment, Spinoza for example will not be mentioned!).
To protect their character, school-boards are allowed to refuse pupils. In Amersfoort a pupil has been expelled from school because his sister wears jeans! Ofcourse this was put to trial, the judge ruled in favor of the school.

The minister of education, Maria van der Hoeven, in the cabinets of Balkenende I, II and III (2002 - 2005) she proposed to educate Intelligent Design on all schools (including public schools). Luckily, this idea was laughed away in parliament.

In Amsterdam, a member of the local Labour-party, wants to imply muslim education on public schools (for every pupil). In the spare-time, muslim-parents (mostly Maroccans) send their children to islam-schools. The islam-education on public schools is to fight muslim-fundamentalism and child-molesting (is reported). What happens with the public and secular character of the school is unkown. This issue is not settled yet, the debate continues.

The governement we have now for the last 7 seven years is dominated by the christian democrates. Balkenende has a program of morals and values. Everyone with a religion is to treated with respect unlike the unmoral unbelievers.
You may say every lie, insult everyone if only you can back it up with a bible or qoran.
Its worh saying that if you work in Germany as a Gastarbieter ( basically a foreign worker ) dont forget to tick NO RELIGION on our residence papers as then you wont be deducted your church tax. Its one of the things they dont tell you but I had friends there who kept me wise so when I registered myself at the local Police Station ( yes, you must do it ! ) I made sure I was down as an unbeliever !

I have worked in both northern and southern Germany - there is a big difference. Basically more cosmopolitan in the north and conservative in the south. The daily greeting in Stuttgart was 'Gruss Gott" - ( Greeting from God ). Took my mate 10 minutes to basterdise it into GUSSET !
As I understand Germany is a federation of states, like Bavaria, Westphalia etc. Are there constitutional differences between the states, or, does the constitution comply to all Germany or does everey state has it's own set of rules about religion? If this issue is more centralized, does the local political culture determine the pratical implementation?
In Austria you have to pay taxes, one percentile of income on my knowledge, if you´re a roman-catholic, which is collected by the gouvernment, and you risk a warrant of distress, if you don´t pay. Church administration can do, whatever wants to, with this money, you´ve got no influence.
But no one says, that you´ve to be a roman-catholic, `cause religion is free in Austria...

On the other side, there are lots of financial supports for especially "christian" churches by the gouvernment, as maintenance supports for historical churches or monasteries, gouvernment-paid teachers for religious affairs, no taxes for religious institutions or "the church" in general, and so on...

And, as a matter of fact, no Austrian statesman or politician would risk to lose elections for declaring of being an Atheist...
In Hungary, things are a bit mixed up, partly due to a very backward-looking government (part-democracy) back in the 1930s, followed by 40 years of communism (with churches as collaborators from the 2nd half of the 1950s!).
There is no register on religious affiliation, just the church records, and this won't be changed because of a basic fear that affiliation can be tracked (holocaust and tortured church members around 1950).
In the last census (2001) the following answers were given:
roman catholic: 51,9%
greek orthodox: 2,6
reformed (calvinist): 15,9
"evangelic"/lutheran: 3
jewish: 0,1
other: 1,1
no affiliation: 14,5
doesn't want to disclose his/her religious affiliation: 10,7
no answer/don't know
In reality (the census was carried out by personal interviews [particular problem in smaller places, where eg. the local schoolteacher did the interviews], and other household members could answer for family not at home when the interviewer came!), according to a research of 2004, only about 13% say they belong to a religious group, more than a half believe in some kind of god/higher power, and 25% have no religion. Around 10% follow church teachings in their everday life.
For these data see (in Hungarian):
Money: Churches get a wide range of subsidies, and it is practically impossible to know how much. They may also go for funds distributed through open calls for application, eg. for modernising school buildings etc. They are exempt from taxes, and while everybody has to provide an invoice for payments and pay VAT, they don't.
They get per capita subsidies for schools and social institutions (eg. homes for pensioners), and their hospitals receive the same money from the state medical insurance than any other institution. However, the per capita for schools and social institutions is higher than the one for the institutions maintained by the local government (the latter provide extra funds for their institutions, and the state tops up the churches subsidies by the amount that has been provided by the local govt's).
There are subsidies for maintaining buildings belonging to the cultural heritage of the country, for maintaining libraries and archives etc.
Churches get special money for providing religious services ("hitélet") (but you have to pay for a wedding or funeral). In small villages with not enough believers, the priest receives his minimal wage from the state.
Churches also receive a yearly income on the buildings they have not asked back: After 1949, church property has been taken over by the state, and after 1989 these buildings have been given back: the churches were asked to decide whch buildings they wanted back to put to church or social etc. use, and for the others, they receive an annuity of around 80 milliard HUF (total annual state budget: 4000 milliard HUF, which includes also things like old age pensions).
There was an initiative for the reform of at least the state subsidies for religious activities, but by a small party who has partically dissloved recently. As a first step, you can decide (since 2001) which religious group you want to give 1% of your income tax (there is at least one non-religious option each year).
Meanwhile, according to the above mentioned study, 43% think the churches should be financed basically by their members' contribution. More than half of the population (even the majority of voters of the conservative fidesz-mpp) think it is wrong to use non-believers' taxes for religious subsidies.

The catholic church is quite heavily involving itself in politics, and the lutheran (in parts) also (the latter has a well-known priest notorious for his antisemitism), including telling their flock whom to vote for (during high mass!). Though I would say their status in society is high, in everyday life their teachings are not accepted by the masses, eg. 94% of the population allow for abortions at least in certain cases, and hardly anybody thinks contraception is wrong. Even the majority of church followers disagrees with the catholic churches stance on euthanasia. 50% of the people in the above mentioned study think that churches should have no say neither in public nor in private life.
A little sotry: last year a hungarian MEP spoke abouth the cath. church trying to intervene in a law under preparation, and she was (quite disgustingly I should add) severely attacked by a romanian MEP of hungarian nationality who is a bishop of the reformed church:





Update Your Membership :



Nexus on Social Media:

© 2018   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service