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  #21  
Old 07.03.2020, 20:20
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Re: Beware of church tax

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Well thank god you did not put down Shia Islam!
AFAIK that's not illegal here.

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...And at the same time, the Church is still expected by those who do not pay the tax, to officiate for baptisms, weddings and funerals - and provide support and care when people are down.
I suppose it's a cantonal variation, but when MIL passed she was not registered here, just visiting. Even though her family had paid church tax for decades and attended when she lived here, the fact she wasn't currently paying meant that our family had to pre-pay the church about 800 Francs before they'd do the service or anything.
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Old 08.03.2020, 09:58
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Re: Beware of church tax

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They should respect my beliefs as well.
How are you beliefs not being respected?
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  #23  
Old 08.03.2020, 10:00
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Re: Beware of church tax

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AFAIK that's not illegal here.



I suppose it's a cantonal variation, but when MIL passed she was not registered here, just visiting. Even though her family had paid church tax for decades and attended when she lived here, the fact she wasn't currently paying meant that our family had to pre-pay the church about 800 Francs before they'd do the service or anything.
No not forbidden. But the file would be sent to another authority
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  #24  
Old 08.03.2020, 23:04
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Re: Beware of church tax

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I agree, and in Neuchâtel, they do. All I am doing is explaining that it is not as simple as selling 'gold ceilings and treasures'.

The Neuchâtel Reformed Church has had to sell many of their Vicarages (hurrah, we said) - and trim down staff drastically. Vicars and staff are shared and services spread out to Parishes on some sort of rosta. But they sill provide social services to many groups of vulnerable people - a lot on a volunteer basis. We help in our own non religious way. I do think it is hypocritical of people who refuse to pay, to expect to benefit from Church services when it suits them.

Some of the local Vicars are regularly asked to officiate for weddings and funerals, and baptisms- and specifically asked to 'tone the God bit down' - knowing they are just video opportunities. I can see how they feel misused. And how those who do continue to pay Church Tax, also feel they bear a truly unfair 'burden', both in financial and volunteering time and energy.
This is not the normal state of things, they should bill for those services if a person hasn't paid their church tax.
Where I live, you get nothing if you didn't pay, and paying is entirely voluntary.
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Old 08.03.2020, 23:28
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Re: Beware of church tax

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So on top of everything else you allowed someone you don't know to fill out a form on your behalf and then signed it would out reviewing the contents....
Jim, I think you're right about not signing anything, ever, that one doesn't understand. That's a good principle in life.

But I remember the first time I saw a form asking for my religion. As meloncollie explained so well, it simply would never, ever for a moment have occurred to me that any entry I made about my religious persuasions would have anything to do with tax. I had never heard of such a connection.
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In defence of the OP, if one is coming from a country where there is no such thing as a church tax - indeed a culture where a church tax would be unthinkable - one likely would not know what checking the religion box could mean.
...
It's easy for a newbie coming from a non-European country to get blindsided by the whole church tax concept. ...
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Yes of course, I did not pay attention, I just thought I can trust them. I still think they should not have tried to insert a tax I did not request or agree on. I did not fill in any confession, they filled it in for me.
I agree with you, too, Iskander, that they should not have filled in that part of the form for you!

The difference, I guess, is that I didn't just trust the officer, but was determined to fill out the form myself, since I was going to sign it. So I got out my pocket dictionary and asked why she wanted me to tell them about my beliefs. Then I had to look her answer: "Steuer". And so it went, backwards and forwards, because even having read the English, I simply couldn't see any connection at all between "religion" and "tax".

Finally, another woman, waiting behind me in the queue, drew me a sketch, showing all the citizens and companies paying their taxes into the big pot, and how it was distributed to pay for roads, lighting, the military, schools and public transport and...I nodded, yeah, yeah, got that, understand, yes, and then, to my shock, she drew a few churches!

What? I said: "Nein!", and rushed to look up the word for "voluntary" and wrote down a big question-mark.

Last edited by doropfiz; 08.03.2020 at 23:45.
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  #26  
Old 09.03.2020, 10:17
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Re: Beware of church tax

Many yonks ago, in a time where Slammer was happily married I got asked about my religion by the Gemeinde and I said as a flippant remark: "Sunworshiper" And did not think about it again for weeks.

Untill my (thank you god) ex-wife told me that somebody from the Gemeinde had called to say that they had all been doing the research and had not found any reference to "Sunworshipers" anywhere and could she tell them a bit more about Sunworshipers.
"He was taking the piss!" She told them in her own patented dead-pan and icy way.


The thought of a gaggle of Beamte frantically searching through tombs of documents for a non-existant religion makes me smile to this day.
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  #27  
Old 09.03.2020, 10:34
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Re: Beware of church tax

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I know the form in Wallis that you fill in for your permit, asks your religion, but there is no mention of a tax..... so if you don't know, you just tick the box none the wiser!
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I remember the first time I saw a form asking for my religion. As meloncollie explained so well, it simply would never, ever for a moment have occurred to me that any entry I made about my religious persuasions would have anything to do with tax. I had never heard of such a connection.
And that's exactly how it's supposed to work. I do think it's good that those of us who are genuinely atheist will not be levied the church tax, on the basis that we won't ever use any church-provided services, but if you're a believer in god(s) and the concept of a church, any church, then I really don't understand what grounds for complaint you have in paying a very small tax to help provide for your needs.

So the lack of advance communication, that by ticking a box you're going to be liable for a tax, seems to me to be perfectly reasonable. Think of it simply as your opportunity to ensure that the church tax you pay goes towards your chosen religion rather than one chosen for you by the state.
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  #28  
Old 09.03.2020, 11:07
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Re: Beware of church tax

Indeed, and it is a very small amount, and tax deductible. We don't pay as we are not believers or users of services. Of course weddings and funerals have a standard fee, for all - but such fees would never be sufficient to cover all the salaries, properties and mainly, all the social services for vulnerable groups run by the Church. If the Church stopped running those, they would all have to be picked up by the State (Canton and Federal) at massive cost. We pay in our own way by helping the local Church with running some of the activities for the elderly, youngsters and oecumenical groups by providing a venue for free.
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  #29  
Old 09.03.2020, 11:52
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Re: Beware of church tax

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but if you're a believer in god(s) and the concept of a church, any church, then I really don't understand what grounds for complaint you have in paying a very small tax to help provide for your needs.

For me, a practicing Catholic who will not join the Swiss Catholic church, it's a matter that goes to the heart of my faith.

It's not the idea of supporting one's church financially, as most believers support their churches freely. Rather it is the idea of financial support of the church as a tax, facilitated by the secular state, that I find problematic.

Yes, I know that a church tax is the way things are done here. Naja, I can't fight that. So I do not attend the local church.

But for those who don't understand where I'm coming from: For those brought up in a Catholicism structured quite differently the very notion of religious 'quid pro quo' as advocates/excusers of the tax have expounded on this thread is to me an anathema.

Denial of the sacraments, some of the fundamental expressions of the Catholic faith, based on financial payment is... so unchristian as to be, to me, beyond shocking. I cannot get my head around a church that could possibly be theologically okay with denial of sacraments for non-payment of a membership fee. I cannot in good conscience - nay, in good Catholic conscience - belong to such a church.

In 'my' Catholicism, the Gospel message is freely available to all who wish to hear, the community welcomes all who wish to share that message. No membership fee is required. (Heck, in my theologically moderate home parish church membership isn't even required - all are welcome at Mass and in the community, Catholic or not.)

As had been said on the many threads discussing this topic, elsewhere in the world believers contribute to their chosen church voluntarily, according to their conscience and means. Those who cannot contribute financially are still very much welcome.

Many people contribute far more than the amount mandated by the Swiss church tax. But they do so freely. And that, to me, is very important.

The argument that building maintenance justifies the tax is, to me, specious. Elsewhere those voluntary contributions manage to keep the buildings in repair and the lights on. But even more importantly - a church is not a building, it is community. We don't need marble and gilt, the church exists 'wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name.'

As said, that the state enforces collection of church taxes is problematic for me. Church/state divide aside, as I see it, a state-mandated church tax guarantees revenue, effectively insulating the church hierarchy from the concerns of the laity.

Let's face it - unaccountability is what enabled so many Church scandals. In fact, the reason that the US bishops finally were forced to deal with the abuse scandals is that angry parishioners simply stopped donating. Voluntary donation - and withholding donations - is a very powerful tool for the laity to promote good things going on and demand change when needed.

I follow my own (Catholic) conscience. How I practice my faith is between me and the Big Guy Upstairs, no one else - and certainly not the secular state.

Dona nobis pacem.
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  #30  
Old 09.03.2020, 12:02
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Re: Beware of church tax

Do they have a box to tick for Jedi?


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  #31  
Old 09.03.2020, 12:07
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Re: Beware of church tax

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Denial of the sacraments, some of the fundamental expressions of the Catholic faith, based on financial payment is... so unchristian as to be, to me, beyond shocking. I cannot get my head around a church that could possibly be theologically okay with denial of sacraments for non-payment of a membership fee.
So if I were to turn up at a local catholic church and line up for the bread and wine would they ask to see proof that I'd paid a membership fee? I'm pretty sure they would not.

I assume you just mean the church tax, but how does the church know who does or does not pay it, or even who you are in the first place?
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  #32  
Old 09.03.2020, 12:26
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Re: Beware of church tax

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So if I were to turn up at a local catholic church and line up for the bread and wine would they ask to see proof that I'd paid a membership fee? I'm pretty sure they would not.

I assume you just mean the church tax, but how does the church know who does or does not pay it, or even who you are in the first place?
For the most "expensive services", wouldn't it be possible for the church to take the name of the subject in question, and ask the Einwohneramt in the local city hall whether they're enrolled or not?
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  #33  
Old 09.03.2020, 12:39
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Re: Beware of church tax

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So if I were to turn up at a local catholic church and line up for the bread and wine would they ask to see proof that I'd paid a membership fee? I'm pretty sure they would not.
No, but they'd check your penis.
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  #34  
Old 09.03.2020, 12:45
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Re: Beware of church tax

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No, but they'd check your penis.
I think Ace is too old for that. Oooops.
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  #35  
Old 09.03.2020, 12:54
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Re: Beware of church tax

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I follow my own (Catholic) conscience. How I practice my faith is between me and the Big Guy Upstairs, no one else - and certainly not the secular state.

Dona nobis pacem.
Remember that the two European religious institutions, Catholics and Protestants, played a far greater historical, political and social role than churches in North America. Since their loss of political power, local churches are now struggling to maintain their congregation.

What I have found over the last few decades is that church goers here are far more liberal than church goers in America. Whereas religious institutions have become less politicized in Europe, they have become more so in America.

This is not to judge you in any way as I think most Catholics here tend to follow their own instincts.

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  #36  
Old 09.03.2020, 13:12
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Re: Beware of church tax

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Remember that the two European religious institutions, Catholics and Protestants, played a far greater historical, political and social role than churches in North America. Since their loss of political power, local churches are now struggling to maintain their congregation.

What I have found over the last few decades is that church goers here are far more liberal than church goers in America. Whereas religious institutions have become less politicized in Europe, they have become more so in America.

This is not to judge you in any way as I think most Catholics here tend to follow their own instincts.

Bless ya
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There maybe something in that and I would say that the Americans are heading for a theocracy at somepoint if commonsense doesn´t kick in. perhaps not all of the country but the biblebelt looks that way.
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  #37  
Old 09.03.2020, 14:10
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Re: Beware of church tax

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The argument that building maintenance justifies the tax is, to me, specious. Elsewhere those voluntary contributions manage to keep the buildings in repair and the lights on. But even more importantly - a church is not a building, it is community. We don't need marble and gilt, the church exists 'wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name.'.

I totally get your whole post here. And yet - I can see the other side. Most of the money is actually used for staff, premises and social care activities/support which are non-religious based. As explained in my post above. It is also a very small amount, 1%- compared to say, episcopal and other Churches where 10% of income is the norm. But yes, I get your comments and respect them. One could imagine that the Big Guy Upstairs would value believers paying to care for the fragile and damaged however.

As many other things- there are huge K/Cantonal differences- but Churches here in NE are owned and maintained by the Commune/Gemeinde - and used for a variety of non religious events, like concerts and cultural events. Despite no paying Church tax, the Church has been lent to me on a variety of occasions for concerts I have organised, and were definitely NOT religious. The maintenance of the Church and grounds + stone walls, heating system, etc- costs a fortune. I can see the day when youngsters for whom the Church has little value or interest, will turn round and say no. Same for the Shooting Range!!!
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Old 09.03.2020, 14:51
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Re: Beware of church tax

I don't understand the Neuchatel church tax.

I read on the NE.ch website that it was a voluntary tax and you choose how much to pay.

When I play around on the tax software and put a Christian religion, it adds a Church tax automatically, with no ability to change the value.

I'm not religious, I was just curious
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  #39  
Old 09.03.2020, 15:09
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Re: Beware of church tax

No expert, but my understanding is that it is optional- but the same % for all.

In NE, only 1/3 rd of those who declare their Protestant faith on their registration documents, choose to pay Church Tax- but still expect the Church to look after them if they get into trouble, become sick or infirm, or just 'old', go into hospital or a care home, etc, etc- and of course for weddings and funerals.
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Old 09.03.2020, 15:43
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Re: Beware of church tax

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I totally get your whole post here. And yet - I can see the other side. Most of the money is actually used for staff, premises and social care activities/support which are non-religious based. As explained in my post above.
If the community is not funding needed social services available to all from general taxation but rather is relying on the church (or any private group) to provide those necessary services, then is that not a red flag? That necessary services provided to all are paid for only by one segment of taxpayers says there is something wrong with the system.

I don't see providing necessary social services to the general population or buildings used as community resources as a defense of the church tax, but rather as an inditement of the current practices.

Yes, many churches see community outreach and service provision as an integral part of their mission, central to their faith. And good on them for filling a niche.

But a service necessary to all or a resource used by all should be provided by the secular community, funded by all taxpayers.

As we are a-rendering, we ought not mix up what is Ceasar's responsibility and what is doG's. And then fund accordingly.

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Remember that the two European religious institutions, Catholics and Protestants, played a far greater historical, political and social role than churches in North America. Since their loss of political power, local churches are now struggling to maintain their congregation.
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What I have found over the last few decades is that some church goers here are far more liberal than some church goers in America. Whereas many religious institutions have become less politicized in Europe, they some have become more so in America.
FTFY, from my perspective. It's still a pretty big tent.

I grew up mostly influenced by liberal Catholicism; the message of the Gospels was a call to social justice. That message, and practice, is still very much alive in many religious communities across America - but sadly is increasingly drowned out by a political-religious movement I cannot square with my own faith.

Perhaps one of the reason I am so vehement on the issue of the separation of church and state - theology aside - is that history shows how badly religious political and financial power can be abused. Today in the US we are increasingly seeing how damaging the descent down that slippery slope can be. The growing power of so-called christian nationalism utterly terrifies me - because I see very little Christ or christianity in christian nationalism. But that's a subject for a whole 'nutha thread...

But back on topic:

I'm Catholic, but not Swiss Catholic. I'm fairly sure the Big Guy understands.
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