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Luther nailing thesesGermany’s We are Church movement is calling it a “pay to pray” policy.

In Germany the state takes a church membership tax from your pay and passes it on to the church. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany, with the support of the (German-led) Vatican, has decided that if you do not allow this church membership tax to be taken from your pay then you will be denied the sacraments and any church involvement. Effectively you are excommunicated.

German Roman Catholics who do not pay the church membership tax, can “no longer receive the sacraments of penance, holy Communion, confirmation or anointing of the sick, other than when facing death, or exercise any church function, including belonging to parish councils or acting as godparents. Marriages would granted only by a bishop’s consent and unrepentant Catholics would be denied church funerals, the decree said.”

Weekly Mass attendance has been dropping about a percentage point every couple of years, from 22% of Catholics attending Mass weekly in 1989 to about 13% now.

The tax earns the church about $ US 6 billion annually, making it one of the world’s wealthiest.

Requiring money for sacraments has always been regarded as grossly immoral. Simony. The extra irony of this story is that the Reformation began in Germany because of the church raising funds by selling indulgences. In Luther’s day the sacraments, of course, were out of bounds from such serious abuse. Times have changed.

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