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Financing of Churches

Public Financing of Churches

The most important right associated with the status of a corporation under public law is the right to levy taxes on members through State administration (article 140 in and article 137 (6) WRV). The principal Churches are the ones that most often take advantage of this right. On the other hand, the majority of smaller religious communities recognised as corporations under public law relinquish this right, preferring to receive private funding from their members.

The cost and salaries of religious instruction in state schools, set out in the Basic Law, are funded by the State. Military and prison chaplaincy spending is also, in part, funded by the State.

The State continues to give regular payments to the major Christian Churches. These payments date back to the secularisation of Church property, especially the Reichsdeputationshauptschluß of 1803 and represent compensatory payments on the expropriation of Church property. Detailed figures on these payments are not available. According to article 140 GG and article 138 (1-1) WRV, these payments should be replaced by a single lump sum payment. However, for lack of a law governing the principles of this substitution, the regular payments continue to be made even today. Furthermore, it is considered that a substitution of this kind would be too much of a strain on the public budget.

Religious communities, like other social and cultural institutions, also receive specific subsidies from the State, for example, to build hospitals or day-care facilities. The activities of the Churches’ social action organisations are more or less funded by payments made to social services. These payments are generally made by the social insurance organisations.

D 19 July 2012    AMichael Heinig

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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