I try daily to read the Deutsche Welle news to keep up with my German.  Another benefit of this news source is that it is much more balanced in its discussion of key world events than the normal US news.  They’ve been following a story of late that in Germany if you don’ t pay your church tax, the Catholic church has decided that you are not a faithful member of the church and should therefore have privileges like participating in communion curtailed.  As a good baptist (though I’m probably only a baptist as much as Olive Garden is Italian) I like the separation of church and state, in distinction to the recent baptist resurgence has led in the exact opposite direction from its roots.  At any rate, the question of financial participation as being a requirement for participation in the sacrament reminds me of questions that were raised a few hundred years back by a German monk.  No doubt, this is much different than the indulgence question and I think that giving to the church is very important, but should the church bar those from the eucharist for not paying a tithe?  I’m sure many baptists would argue yes, though the Supper doesn’t mean enough for them to matter.  I don’t want this to sound anti-catholic, because many of my students accuse me of falling on Catholic (and Orthodox) sides of issues as much as Protestant.  I imagine the Evangelische Kirche will have similar problems.  Also, should a civil court make the decision?  How would they enforce it?

[Update: After thinking about this more, it does hit me that it’s not directly about the money.  It’s more about believers making a public confession that they are not part of the church.  It’s a double whammy to the church because of the financial implications, but they should rightly be disturbed by church members who denounce their association publically but want to participate privately.]

I note the two bits from DW.  I apologize for the German text, but I’m too lazy to go find an English description of the issue (Google translate should suffice):

Ohne Kirchensteuer keine Sakramente

Die katholische Kirche schließt Menschen, die keine Kirchensteuer zahlen, auch aus dem kirchlichen Leben aus. Kann man aus der Kirche austreten und trotzdem katholisch sein? Darüber entscheidet nun ein Gericht.

Sept 26:

Das Bundesverwaltungsgericht in Leipzig trifft am heutigen Mittwoch eine Grundsatzentscheidung zur Kirchensteuer in Deutschland. Es geht um die Frage, ob man sich von der Zahlung der Kirchensteuer befreien, gleichzeitig aber Mitglied der katholischen Kirche bleiben kann. Der Freiburger Kirchenrechtler Hartmut Zapp hatte 2007 seinen Austritt aus der Kirche als Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts erklärt und keine Kirchensteuern mehr gezahlt. Er erklärte jedoch, er sei weiterhin gläubiges Mitglied der Kirche. Dagegen hatte das Erzbistum Freiburg geklagt. Zapp erhielt mit seiner Klage in erster Instanz recht. Der Verwaltungsgerichtshof Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim entschied aber, dass es keinen teilweisen Kirchenaustritt geben kann. Dagegen hatte Zapp Revision eingelegt.