Other church-state debates
• Denmark is debating separation of church and state. While the constitution describes the (Lutheran) Church of Denmark as “the people’s church,” not a state church, its highest legal authority is Denmark’s parliament and minister of church affairs.
• Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran Church—a national body that isn’t bound to the state—saw a minority of members leave in 2003 when the Freedom of Religion Act passed, allowing people to more easily resign church membership. The denomination’s Web site says Finns who are church members pay a tax (on average about 1.32 percent in 2005) collected with district and state income taxes.
• After Sweden ended its Lutheran state church system in 2000, some members (about 6 percent) left the denomination to avoid paying a similar tax, said Bo Larsson of the Church of Sweden’s national staff. “The new situation demands a financial adjustment, mostly for local congregations, but also in practical action. ... [The church] needs to put more emphasis on youth work, especially candidates for confirmation,” he said.
|Kåre Gjønnes (left) presents a Jan. 31 report from a government-appointed commission, while Norway’s minister for culture and church affairs, Trond Giske, listens. After three years of considering the issues, 18 of 20 commission members want to end Norway’s church-state system.|
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