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The Churches have influence on politics, on public broadcasters where they have seats, and they teach the regular religion classes in schools (except in the three city states, where they fight to get that right). And that's only the influence where they have formal legal rights, not even the informal influence.

Then there is the funding: if you owe your church money every month, because you are a member, the state will collect it for them with the income tax. There are hidden funds too.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:41:18 PM EST
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And the state tax authorities keep track of people's religious affiliation.

Big yikes!

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:42:15 PM EST
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Right. State tax authorities mark marital status, number of children, membership of church on a card which you then hand to your employer (!) who transfers the taxes on your wage directly to the state.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:51:45 PM EST
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Formal legal rights = seats on public broadcasters + teaching religion in schools + administration of voluntary religious tax. OK, that gives them an undue influence on the formation of public opinion, so I guess that, according to Migeru's definition, Germany fails the "separation of church and state" test.

What are the "hidden funds"? Sounds exciting.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:56:37 PM EST
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It is exciting. The churches run social services, hospitals, kindergarten and are refunded for the costs. The are paid for teaching religion in schools. Their priests study in public universities subjects that are decided by the Church, not the state, but the Churches can't be bothered to pay for that. Then there are some historical hangovers which we are told we can't change. In Bavaria bishops are paid by the state and the like.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:32:38 PM EST
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