How much do churches earn with tithing

Church and money

1. We live in separation. Since 1919.

Church and state have been separate for almost 100 years. At the time, this was enshrined in the Weimar Constitution and applies to all religious communities and ideologies. That is why one reads in the Basic Law, Article 140, briefly and succinctly: "There is no state church". Which does not preclude church and state from entrusting each other with tasks. The basis for this is the principle of subsidiarity applicable in Germany. This means that the state does not perform important social tasks itself, but leaves them to independent agencies.

One of the largest sponsors are the Protestant churches in Germany with numerous facilities, such as kindergartens and care facilities. They perform social tasks for the state and receive grants from the public purse like any other independent agency - a sensible separation of duties for all parties.

2. Democratic, responsible, transparent.

The Evangelical Church in Germany is structured from the bottom up: a democratic organization with federal structures. Every church member has the opportunity to participate in the work of the Protestant church and, for example, to get involved in the church councils. They adopt the budgets of the individual municipalities. At the level of the 20 regional churches, elected members decide in the synods on the adoption of the budgets. The church members decide through their elected representatives how the income of their church will be spent.

The Protestant Church is not designed to maximize profits or high returns: Income is immediately reinvested in church work and should benefit society as a whole. Individuals cannot dispose of the funds alone, as all expenditure must always be shown in a budget. These budgets are public - a transparent structure for anyone who wants to know.

3. Church tax - fair contribution for everyone.

Even if the name suggests otherwise: The idea of ​​the church tax is a membership fee. It was introduced to legally and financially secure the separation of church and state. This path is open to all tax-collecting religious communities. If the church were to collect these contributions itself, it would have to create its own structures. That would result in considerable costs. It is much more practical to collect data from the tax office - which has all the necessary data and manages it securely. The Protestant Church pays the tax office for this service - in 2019, for example, with around 193 million euros.

In addition, the contributions are individually balanced: In contrast to other organizations, the Protestant Church takes into account the respective financial situation of its members. Those who earn less also pay less. Only just under a third of the members of the Protestant church actually pay church tax as a result. The church tax is based on performance - a fair matter for everyone involved.

4. Big hearts - open doors.

Many institutions and services of the Protestant Church make offers for all citizens - regardless of whether they are members of the Church and / or what origin they are. In this way, the activities and income of the church benefit society as a whole.

The Protestant Church maintains numerous institutions, particularly in the areas of social affairs, health, pastoral care, youth work, education and culture. Not infrequently, these are among the most sought-after in the respective region. Protestant educational institutions, for example, are a legacy of the Reformation to this day - a high-quality offer for everyone.

Three common prejudices about church and money:

"The fact that church and state are separate is not really true: the state collects the tax for the churches!"

Yes, church and state are separate in Germany - this has been anchored since 1919. Previously, the church was viewed as a public affair and was funded significantly by government funds. Precisely because that should change, there is the church tax as a contribution that the members raise. The fact that the state collects this contribution through its tax offices saves the churches considerable bureaucratic effort. For this service, however, the churches have to pay the state - with around three percent of the church tax revenue. Collection by the tax offices is open to all tax-collecting religious communities.

By the way: The church tax is socially fair because it is based on the financial performance of the members. With an average of one to two percent of gross income, today's contribution to the Church is far from the biblical “tithe”.

“Church hospitals, schools and kindergartens are financed almost exclusively by the state, with many billions of euros. Why this privilege? "

There are no privileges for the Protestant Church and its diakonia: They are one of the many free providers in our country. Because the state does not want, has to and cannot do everything alone: ​​It is absolutely normal in Germany for social and educational institutions to be run by independent organizations. Based on the experience with conformity and a totalitarian state, this is even expressly intended by the Basic Law. The evangelical institutions are also largely refinanced by the community because they serve society as a whole. For example, around a fifth of all inpatient places for people with disabilities are in the almost 32,000 Diakonie facilities. Around 1200 schools are owned by Protestants. And almost every sixth child in Germany goes to a Protestant kindergarten. An average of ten percent of the running costs in the daycare centers are financed from the church's own funds. That is 302 million euros.

By the way: The state naturally saves if it is not itself but an independent organization that operates educational and social institutions. In any case, clinics and old people's homes are not refinanced by the state, but by the health and nursing care funds, i.e. by the insured themselves.

“The state gives the churches hundreds of millions of euros a year because they were expropriated over two centuries ago. The churches just can't get their throats full! "

In the course of historical development, the churches have actually been deprived of many assets by the state, from whose income they were previously able to finance themselves. For the funds that have been missing since then, they receive compensation payments. This is not a gift, but agreed under the Basic Law through contracts between state and church. The state benefits are also not legally invalid because the reasons for them go back so long. Should the state want to follow the mandate of the Basic Law to replace the services to the Protestant Church, this would be welcomed. Then, however, as provided for in the Basic Law, an appropriate final payment would have to be agreed. There have recently been specific considerations for a legal regulation.

Regardless of the constitutional replacement requirement, the state supports the work of the Protestant Church as a religious community for society.

In its claim to neutrality, the state agrees such services not only with the churches, but with all religious and ideological communities that have corporate status, including the Jewish religious communities as well as humanist associations.

By the way: With the Protestant Church's annual income of around 12.3 billion euros in 2014, state payments made up a full 2.2 percent at 273 million euros. For 2018, the amount of government funding was 300 million euros.

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The church takes money and spends it. She spends some of it on making provisions for future obligations - for example, for the pastors or building maintenance. In the church-institutional as well as in the private sector, the money remains the property of the investor. You are therefore also responsible for your investments. From the church's point of view, these should be based on Christian values ​​in a socially acceptable, ecological and generational way. Investors can achieve this by consciously deciding on appropriate investments and then taking responsibility for them, e.g. as an active shareholder.

Three standards apply:

  • The investment should be made in accordance with the Church's mandate;
  • it should meet ethical criteria ...
  • ... and it should be sustainable: its effects on the environment, the world around us and posterity should be considered.

In order to answer the many related questions, those responsible for finance from the church sector have developed a "Guide to Ethically Sustainable Investments". This is primarily aimed at those responsible for finances in church institutions, but can also be of help to private individuals.

Status: August 2019 | Publisher: EKD | Concept and design: gobasil GmbH