Is Germany a secular state?

St. Bartholomew's Church, Berchtesgaden
St. Bartholomew’s Church, Berchtesgaden

For many people Germany is a secular state. But is it really? The Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church are linked to the state in many ways. They run social institutions like hospitals and kindergartens financed by public authorities. They employ hundreds of thousands. And for employment prospects many stay members of the church. The taxpayers finances the salaries of teachers of religion. And the state collects the Church Tax for free what he does for nobody else.

To me the privileging of any religion doesn’t fit to a modern state. That is what Frank Patalong from Spiegel online, the biggest German Newsportal, also says in a passionate plea for abolishing these privileges. I very like it.

Beside these still existing strong links between state and church people leaving the church. For years the two big churches in Germany, the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church, have been struggling with declining membership.

And the downturn intensifies. The number of people leaving the church rises by up to 50 percent in 2014, says the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the leading newspapers in Germany.

The reason might be a tax reform leading back to 2009 when the capital gains tax was simplified to a flat tax. From then on these tax was collected by the banks. But although there is a church tax on capital gains the banks didn’t know about the religious affiliations of their clients. This will change from 01.01.2015 when banks get these information from authorities.

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Von Johannes Eber

In Berlin living economist, senior consultant at Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft (INSM) and co-founder of the media agency Solokarpfen.

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