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Internet Deconstructing State Church in Finland

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the why-does-finland-have-a-state-church dept.

808

Agnostic writes "Freethinkers of the city of Tampere, who advocate separation of state and church in Finland, created a Web site in 2003 to assist people in resigning from the church. The Web site soon became a big success in Finland. 39% of all resignations in 2004 went through the web site and 69% of all resignations in 2005. In the same process 22% more people resigned from the church in 2005 than in 2004. The most common reason cited for resigning from the church has been saving church income tax (1.3% on average)."

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808 comments

Church? (5, Funny)

Irashtar (836973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628366)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along..
I resigned from the church ages ago, where's the site to help people resign from the state?

Re:Church? (5, Funny)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628437)

Re:Church? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628605)

Touche, my redneck friend, touche.

Re:Church? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628438)

where's the site to help people resign from the state?

Actually, any [aa.com] of these [united.com] sites [delta.com] can help. Just be sure that you tell them that you only need a one way ticket.

Re:Church? (1)

JPribe (946570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628535)

Do they provide an address to send your church memorabilia to so it can be disposed of properly?? They use fire for this sort of thing, right?

Re:Church? (2, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628580)

Only kernel developers can access that site.

Hey, illiterates! (-1, Offtopic)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628653)

"Deconstruction" is almost universally understood to refer to a specific sort of literary analysis. No reasonably well-educated English speaker should mistake it as a synonym for "destruction" or "dismantlement."

I suspect a more appropriate word in the title would have used a form of the verb "to erode," thus: "Internet Eroding State Church in Finland."

Please educate yourselves.

"deconstruct" ? "dismantle" (-1, Offtopic)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628374)

At least not in common English. Please educate yourselves.

Re:"deconstruct" ? "dismantle" (2, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628430)

Dismantle is indeed part of common english, please get a good dictionary (Meriam-Webster online, for example). Deconstruct however is a literary term, a type of criticism.

Re:"deconstruct" ? "dismantle" (3, Informative)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628465)

Slashcode turned my "does not equal" sign into a question mark. Deconstruct != dismantle. Contrary to the implication of the title, this article has nothing to do with deconstruction.

deconstruction (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628543)

"Deconstruction" - is a PHB word and as such has no place with anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

Construction is a erudite word meaning "building". You cannot 'de-build'. If you mean dismantle or demolish, say so.

Apart from use in philosophy etc, this word is not valid.

PHB word? (1)

pomo monster (873962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628573)

Yeah—Derrida, Spivak, et al. were nothing if not archetypical PHBs. Again, please educate yourself [wikipedia.org] .

I prefer "antidisestablishmentarianism" (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628569)

If we're limiting ourselves to common English [wikipedia.org] , and all...

church income tax? (4, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628377)

Could someone from over there please explain how this Church Income Tax works? sounds scary. Of course, over here in the U.S. the old traditional Baptist churchs do their best to get everyone to tithe (10% of income), but it's not a line item on our form 1040

Re:church income tax? (5, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628424)

it's just on top of the normal tax, built in to the system so you don't pay them seperately... so you don't think about it even usually unless someone mentions it to you and tells you that there is a website where you can resign.

in medieval or something times it was 1/10th of income(or potates/wheat/etc you produced.. I'm not exactly sure how it went, been a while since I was in history class).

Re:church income tax? (2, Funny)

C32 (612993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628441)

Over here in olde yurp' a lot of countries are old monarchies and as such, when christianity became popular, kings would mandate by law or edict that everyone else adopt this new God.

So when democracy came about, the laws about christianity and the "state church" just kinda stayed on the books :)

To be fair, it's fairly simple to opt-out of, and one does get something in return for the tax (christenings, weddings, funerals etc. are all free of charge).

Re:church income tax? (0, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628495)

my goodness, and here I thought Europe was all modern and enlightened. That's as disgusting as state Islam; a violent revolution against "the church" would be justified.

Re:church income tax? (5, Informative)

hpa (7948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628442)

In Finland, if you're a member of the State Church (which you are by birth, but you can withdraw), they get to add a fixed percentage to your income tax bill. Sweden had the same system until 2000 when they abolished the State Church (the Church itself still exists, of course, but it's no longer a Government institution.) There, the system has been modified so that any religious organization which a defined membership that meets certain criteria can apply to tax their members. I think the rate is still set by the Government, though.

Re:church income tax? (1)

MrTester (860336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628513)

And yet the church (any church) talks about how declining membership is a sign of degraded moral and family values.

Churches that only want paying members....

Wow. I had no idea this was happening. How can this not be a death sentence for religeon in these places?

Younger (and thus poorer) people will opt out because they cant afford it.

Later in life when they are more stable and have disposable income they will not have any ties to the church, so why would they rejoin? So the church is loosing out on people who have success later in their life and otherwise might have contributed.

Wow.

Re:church income tax? (3, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628600)

And yet the church (any church) talks about how declining membership is a sign of degraded moral and family values.

I see it as people finally waking up and realizing that god is myth, no different than greek legend.

Re:church income tax? (5, Informative)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628533)

if you're a member of the State Church (which you are by birth, but you can withdraw),

<nitpick> ...which you are by birth, if you've been baptised, and thus member of the church and thus furthermore listed in the Church's census registry... </nitpick>

As a rule, people born in Lutheran or Orthodox (even in name only) families get their kids baptised and thus to the church's books. Hardcore atheist families can always get their kids named in the boring red-tape way, and I think there's no law against church-goers doing that, aside of getting more than a few weird looks... =)

Besides, it's not like the kid is going to pay the taxes in question until they can actually get a job, anyway =)

Re:church income tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628565)

In Finland, if you're a member of the State Church (which you are by birth, but you can withdraw),


Actually that depends of your parents. I have never been a member of The State Church probably partly due the fact that my mother isn't originally from Finland and therefore never has been a Church Member. And that confused a heck lot of me due the primary school because I couldn't go to certain happenings that were religiously related and that there were a lot of religious events at the primary school.

And I find it more useful when not been taught religion but instead philosophy of values and world views.

10%-Baptists-Christian Coolition-Bush-War (-1, Flamebait)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628449)

Since bribery is still really not illegal in the US,
Funny church money still plays a role in government (in addition to the role of corporate funny money).

The result: We need to invade countries to take oil for our suv trips to walmart, and so people can go to church and learn about the magical being that really wants us to believe in the unbelievable.

Re:10%-Baptists-Christian Coolition-Bush-War (-1, Flamebait)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628531)

Since bribery is still really not illegal in the US,
Funny celebrity money still plays a role in government (in addition to the role of corporate funny money).

The result: We need to kill babies to have free time to take our Prius on trips to Starbucks for our latte's, and so people can go to anti-war rallies and learn about the magical being that really wants to to believe in socialism^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W the unbelievable.

Or something. Just lay off the crack, will you?

-stormin

Re:10%-Baptists-Christian Coolition-Bush-War (0, Offtopic)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628686)

A clump of cells is a baby? I didn't know that. Did anyone else here know that?

Re:church income tax? (5, Informative)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628455)

Church income tax (Kirkollisvero) is only paid by members of Finnish Evangelic Lutheran Church and the Finnish Orthodox Church. It's just what it seems like: Part of the income tax (exactly how much depends on the city you live in) goes to the church. No other churches are currently entitled to this stuff, but other churches are, like all other organisations, free to collect membership fees as they see necessary.

It's an old, old, OLD taxation relic, and due to the size of these churches, the system makes sense for their operations.

Apparently, it's also possible to apply for exemption of the church income tax, partially or wholly.

(Thanks to fi.wikipedia...)

Re:church income tax? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628457)

I think that's pretty much how it works -- since the Church is affiliated with the government (or the other way around if you prefer), it gets paid out of income taxes that are collected by whatever their equivalent of the IRS is.

This is one of these things that they decided was a bad idea when they were designing this country, and so there's really no parallel to it. Any church that you'd tithe to in the U.S. would be voluntary (ok, we can argue about whether the Scientologists really make it 'voluntary' but that's a different argument) and hopefully they wouldn't be able to access your income tax returns to see if you were paying the right amount. Although I suspect today it's probably not hard for someone to buy information about your income from a broker, if they wanted to.

So I guess here in the U.S., we've just privatized it. :)

-1, Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628459)

It's not just Baptist churchs in the U.S. which try to get folks to tithe.

Re:church income tax? (1, Flamebait)

br00tus (528477) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628501)

I guess you haven't heard of the White House office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives [whitehouse.gov] . Praise the Lord (the Lord is a magic man who lives in the clouds who controls everything, in case you don't know)!

Re:church income tax? (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628514)

no it's not part of our form 1040, instead they just hide the money they take from you by getting politicians to pass laws only for their religious agenda and getting money given to them by the Department of Faith Based Initiatives

Re:church income tax? (4, Interesting)

JediLow (831100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628670)

America in the post-revolution period was actually set up with taxes that went to different churches. The Founders advocated no national one (along with national religion) because they felt it was the responsiblity for the states (which had taxes for churches and an official church). Without looking it up I think the last state to get rid of its official church was ~1830-1840

Someone should make something like this... (5, Funny)

s-gen (890660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628378)

for "resigning" from AOL

Re:Someone should make something like this... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628466)

AOL would ignore it anyway! ;)

(For those that don't get: AOL will just keep charging your credit card, no matter how many times you try to "cancel." I've seen this happen to a LOT of people.)

Re:Someone should make something like this... (4, Funny)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628575)

Church Service Representative: Hi, this is John at the Finland State Church . How may I help you today?

Vincent: I want to quit the church.

CSR: Sorry to hear that. Let's pull your file up here real quick. Can I have your name, please?

Vincent: Vincent Ferrari

CSR: 'K, Vincent . . . All right, thank you very much. Okay. You've been with the church for a long time.

Vincent: I just don't use it anymore.

CSR: Okay. Well actually, I'm showing a lot of usage on this church file.

Vincent: Yeah, a long time ago. Not recently.

(Here the service rep asks about another file that belongs to Ferrari's dad.)

CSR: Well, what's causing you to want to resign from the church today? I mean obviously, I mean . . .

Vincent: I don't use it and he doesn't use it, so we're quitting the church. . . . I don't need it. I don't want it. I just don't need it anymore.

CSR: Well, on June 2nd, you went to church. You were there for 72 hours. On June 2nd.

Vincent: I don't know how to make it any clearer . . .

CSR: Last month was 545 hours of church usage.

Vincent: I don't know how to make this any clearer, so I'm just going to say it one last time. Resign me. Please.

CSR: Well explain to me what's, wha, why . . .

Vincent: I'm not explaining anything to you. Resign. Me.

CSR: Wha, what's the matter, Vincent? We're just . . . I'm just trying to help here.

Vincent: You're not helping me. Helping me would be . . .

CSR: I am trying to help . . .

Vincent: Listen! I called to resign from the church. Helping me would be resigning me from the church. Please help me and resign me from the church.

CSR: No, it wouldn't actually . . .

Vincent: Resign me!

CSR: Resigning you . . .

Vincent: Resign. Me. From. The. Church. Resign. Me. From. The. Church...

I'm glad I don't pay any tithes... (3, Funny)

maubp (303462) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628383)

The most common reasons cited for resigning from the church have been saving church income tax (1.3% on average)
In medieval England, wasn't the church tithe 10%? They're lucky its only about one percent!

Re:I'm glad I don't pay any tithes... (5, Funny)

EL_mal0 (777947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628443)

It used to be 10%, but some priest got greedy and wanted to collect more money, so he proposed "Tithing^2 -- Taking god's money to the MAX!".

It was much later that he realized his mistake.

Real Reason. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628388)

Money is more important than jesus

Re:Real Reason. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628405)

Money is more important than jesus

You bet money is more important than some old Jewish bloke who lived 2000 years ago!

I don't agree (-1, Troll)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628415)

We got to help our less intelligent brethren with imaginary friends, to stop hallucinating.

Re:I don't agree (3, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628450)

As long as your imaginary friend is saying "DONT kill", I'm cool with it. It's when they switch to saying "DO kill" that I get concerned.

umm!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628391)

I wonder what membership fee we pay a year just to be called an American?

Re:umm!!! (1)

flatcat (464267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628529)

Just about 40% of income between Federal and State tax.

Re:umm!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628537)

"I wonder what membership fee we pay a year just to be called an American?"

For the past several years, it has been called "our rights".

Re:umm!!! (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628660)

I wonder what membership fee we pay a year just to be called an American?

I'm sorry, but that tax troll is so bad I have to refute it: "You can just call yourself an American for free from anywhere in the World."

But by paying your US membership dues, you get things like parks and police and zoning laws and corporate handouts and the satisfaction of knowing you helped blow up someone's house in Iraq.

church-discussions on /.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628394)

...I'm outta here!

Have fun flaming...

Re:church-discussions on /.? (1)

Irashtar (836973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628406)

Um, Burn the heretic?

Re:church-discussions on /.? (1)

Tekzel (593039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628471)

...I'm outta here!

Have fun flaming...


Are you kidding me? What, and miss some of the best flamefests... er discussions going? No way man, nothing like a good religious "discussion" to get the old juice a flowin.

Anti-religion (-1, Troll)

Jerim (872022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628418)

This article smacks of anti-religious propaganda. FTA, it is stated that the main reason people are leaving is to avoid taxes. This isn't some great coup for the anti-religious crowd. I can support the seperation of church and state. But that isn't what is going on here. People aren't being encouraged to seperate the two, they are being encouraged to abandon religion all together. What are the numbers of new enrollment in other religions besides the state run religion, in Finland? I am just saying that if your desire is to seperate church and state, then create a movement to seperate the two. Don't create a movement to get people to abandon religion. That is just subversive.

Re:Anti-religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628439)

+5 .. You don't even have to read the article to get that impression.

Re:Anti-religion (1)

F_Scentura (250214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628499)

It's easy to go through life deciding the "slant" of everything before you actually read it. While I'm unabashedly an atheist, there are plenty of reasons for a theist to bow out of a state-sponsored faith that don't involve "furthering an Atheistic lieberal religion" or whatever you're assuming this is put in place to do.

Re:Anti-religion (1)

Ireneo Funes (886273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628440)

Of course paying a TAX that goes to the CHURCH doesn't STINK of PROMISCUITY.
I think your post is much more about paranoia than it is about this article.

Re:Anti-religion (2, Insightful)

F_Scentura (250214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628445)

"People aren't being encouraged to seperate the two, they are being encouraged to abandon religion all together. What are the numbers of new enrollment in other religions besides the state run religion, in Finland? I am just saying that if your desire is to seperate church and state, then create a movement to seperate the two. Don't create a movement to get people to abandon religion. That is just subversive."

So what? There's nothing wrong with that either, if that's their choice. People have been "subversively" trying to missionary for millenia now.

Re:Anti-religion (2, Funny)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628630)

what!?!? missionary is subversive? I thought that was the one position that wasn't going to get me into trouble.

Re:Anti-religion (2, Insightful)

hachete (473378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628695)

...ah, how little of the mechanics of love you know. *any* position will get you into trouble...

Re:Anti-religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628452)

Agreed. Europeans, with few exceptions (Poland, esp.) are attending weekly church services less and less. Last time I read about it, European church attendance was down to almost nothing percentage-wise (single digit attendance). In the US, they say that about 50% of people attend church services weekly. I disagree with this number from experience. I personally attend every Sunday I am not ill, but none of my neighbors attend. None of my co-workers attend except one. I live in Northern Virginia where it's very modern and people are generally very educated.
I cannot say why church attendance is down. People in America say church attendance is going up. I don't see it despite the rise of mega-churches.

Re:Anti-religion (1)

Zebadias (861722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628487)

"I cannot say why church attendance is down" I think most people just don't think its real any more.

Re:Anti-religion (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628663)

People in America say church attendance is going up. I don't see it despite the rise of mega-churches.

If thats true, its probably because these people have an irrational fear (of terrorism) and thus need something, anything to believe in so they feel better. So they choose to believe in something equally irrational.

How is that subversive? (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628485)

How is it any different than trying to get people to join a religion? If you are ok with people who have faith in a particular religious dogma going and trying to convert others to their views, what's wrong with peopel who belive in no religious dogma trying to convert others to their views? Some people honestly believe that religion is a large source of the world's problems and to truly advance we need to abandon it. You may not agree, but it's not a carzy viewpoint. It certianly is no more extreme than, say, believing in a virgin birth and reserrection of the dead.

Re:How is that subversive? (0, Offtopic)

Jerim (872022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628674)

I just want to make it clear, I am not calling those who oppose religion, crazy. They may very well have a valid viewpoint. My viewpoint is that religion has an inherent positive nature. Trying to get someone to cut their ties to that is destructive. The way I see it, there are people out there trying to actively destroy organized religion. The posts I have read on this board seem to back that up.

It isn't really about the tax or the church vs. state issue. It is the non-religious crowd wanting to destroy organized religion. I find that to be wrong. True, churches can go overboard sometimes in recruiting new members, although I have never been approached by anyone to join their church. If we want to fight overly agressive recruitment by the church, we don't do that by being overly agressive in getting people to abandon church.

I just find it wrong to get people to abandon something that makes them happy and may give them meaning in their lives, just because a group out there doesn't like it. The church may try to shove their viewpoints down everyone's throat, but so is the non-religious crowd. That isn't really a good example to set.

Re:How is that subversive? (1)

really? (199452) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628693)

They could not destroy organized religion. God would not allow that. ;-)

Re:Anti-religion (3, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628515)

Unless I'm misreading, this is about resigning from one particular, state-run church which you are born into as a citizen. Are people who follow different faiths "anti-religion" even though they can devote their every waking moment to a religion which doesn't include this particular Lutheran denomination? Read this [slashdot.org] and get back to us.

Re:Anti-religion (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628520)

Don't create a movement to get people to abandon religion. That is just subversive.

And to create a movement to get people to join a church by proselytizing on the street, door-to-door, in the malls, in the restauruants, in the supermarket, in people's snail mail, in their e-mail, on TV/radio, on the Net, in the newspapers and magazines, and even in ^*(*^&*() public restrooms, for crying out loud is just so much better, isn't it?

I won't be mentioning which religious organizations tend to do this, but they all seem to belong to one religion, at least in the U.S.

Re:Anti-religion (5, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628522)

Getting people to leave the state church IS the most effective way of encouraging the separation of church and state. The most common argument for keeping a state religion is generally that it is the religion favored by the vast majority of people. Encouraging people to explicitly make a point that they do not support the state church makes that argument gradually more and more tenuous.

Apart from your silly assumption that it's somehow automatically bad to get people to abandon religion, your argument is severely flawed: You are assuming that the people who leave the church somehow believed before they left the state church and stopped believing after they left just because they choose not to have the government pick which church they wish their money to go to.

Scandinavia really needs to get rid of the state churches. Most people are members not because they want to, but because they can't be bothered to resign their membership, or don't even know that they are members. In Norway, for instance, a child that is born to a mother that is a member of the Norwegian state church is automatically enrolled as a member, while a child born to a mother belonging to any other religious or secular society must explicitly be added, and similarly a child enrolled in the state church stays a member until he/she decides to resign the membership, while other organizations typically need to get the child to actively "take over" the membership once they reach 15 years.

The result is that the membership of the state churches is in no way an indication of what level of support they enjoy, and is only used as an excuse to justify the differences in government funding. In Norway, for instance, the funding to the state church is decided. Then that amount is divided by the number of "members" of the state church, which is hugely inflated by their membership policy, and the resulting amount is what is granted per member to other registered religious and secular movements.

Getting people to leave the state churches is a way of removing the grossly undeserved preferential treatment they get. Let the people who actually want those churches pay for it.

Re:Anti-religion (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628540)

Um ... so what?

They're not being "subversive," they're just allowing people to make a cost/benefit analysis for themselves.

The question that's being asked implicitly is: 'Is whatever you're getting from the Church worth 1.5% of your income?' And people -- apparently -- are saying 'no' in droves.

If people had a need for another religion, doubtless they'd find one. If they aren't, perhaps it's because that's not something that they require in their lives.

Re:Anti-religion (1)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628546)

"I can support the seperation of church and state. But that isn't what is going on here. People aren't being encouraged to seperate the two, they are being encouraged to abandon religion all together."

I disagree. Church and state are separate in the US, but it's completely obvious that religion has an insane overall effect on politicians and hence politics. In Finland, we have an official state religion, but it has virtually no power to influence anyone.

I feel that the latter is much more important, and as such fighting religious influence directly is no bad idea.

Re:Anti-religion (2, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628552)

I am just saying that if your desire is to seperate church and state, then create a movement to seperate the two. Don't create a movement to get people to abandon religion. That is just subversive.

Churches have special classes for kids where they teach a watered down puppies and ponies version of religion that is palatable to young, impressionable children. That's quite subversive in my book. And I'm sure I could go on about other subversive religious attempts... "Intelligent Design" anyone?
 

Re:Anti-religion (5, Informative)

Apotekaren (904220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628572)

No, the problem in Finland(I live here) is that the Lutheran church is so dominant(in numbers, but not in influence) that the state has agreed to help them collect money, using the our regular taxation system. This is NOT an action of a state separated from the church, and also unfair against the other religions in the country. Mind you, the official line of the state is that they have nothing to do with the church. Yet almost all governmental ceremonies are atleast partially Lutheran, considering the location(church) or content(psalms, biblereading).
On top of this, ALL businesses pay a certain percentage of church-tax. It doesn't matter if none of the employees are members of the church, hell even Muslim-owned businesses pay taxes to the Lutheran church.
I used this webpage to resign last year, for purely faith-related reasons. Some regions of the country do not allow resigning by email, even if you add all the vital information. I was sent a letter home with a form to fill in and sign, and a return envelope. I was officially not part of the church 5 weeks after I used that webpage. This because we have what they call a "regret-month", which basicly just makes you wait 4 weeks before it makes it official. Like I haven't thought through my choice BEFORE sending in my resignation.

Re:Anti-religion (1, Interesting)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628595)

Are you trolling? Is this a joke? The whole "chruch gets your taxes" thing is so alien to me I can't tell.

Here's your paragraph slightly changed to demonstrate exactly how rediculous and hypocritical it is.

This article smacks of religious propaganda. FTA, it is stated that the main reason people are joining is to get into heaven or some other fraud. This isn't some great coup for the religious crowd. I can support the seperation of church and state. But that isn't what is going on here. People aren't being encouraged to merge the two, they are being encouraged to embrace religion. Oh heavens my, we can't have someone choosing to find their own path! I am just saying that if your desire is to merge chruch and state, then create a movement to join the two. Don't create a movement to get people to join religion. That is just subversive.
Aww. Are the little evangelicals scared the same tactics used against them that they use all the time? Boo hoo. People might decide religion is total garbage and embrace the 20th Century, we cannot have that!

Re:Anti-religion (-1, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628610)

Don't create a movement to get people to abandon religion. That is just subversive.

You're right. Attempting to convince people to abandon their fear, ignorance and hatred thinly disguised as "religion" is "subversive". It makes them harder to control.

Re:Anti-religion, no it's not (2, Informative)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628634)

You have to understand a couple of things about the Finnish Lutheran Church and its role in the Finnish society first.

Historically everyone in Finland belonged to the Lutheran Church. Children born were automatically "enrolled" if at least one of the parents (or maybe just the mother) belonged to the church, and since 99% (or so) did, practically all children born in Finland became Lutherans as well.

It didn't matter how religious you were, if you were born in Finland, you were a Lutheran, even if you worshipped pagan Gods in your free time. You had to specifically resign from the church to stop being a Lutheran.

The Finnish people are not particularly religious, especially the younger generations. People go to church only when it's forced upon them (e.g. beginning and end of school year) or for "special occassions" (e.g. christening babies, confirmation, weddings and funerals). Extremely few people attend Sunday service.

Christening and confirmation are usually done mostly by habit rather than by some religious need. Confirmation, in particular, has more to do with teenagers having a blast (and sneaking into each others' rooms during the summer camps most teenagers attend to get the confirmation done) than anything religious. It's more of a rite of passage than reaffirming your belief in God.

Finally the Lutheran Churches' privilege to tax people in Finland has been very unpopular for at least two decades. People don't quite see why they have to pay part of their income to an institution that they have no connection with.

This has nothing to do with any anti-religious movement. The Freethinkers are not bashing Christianity, they are just making it easier for people, who are not religious, to resign from the church.

Re:Anti-religion (4, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628640)

Don't create a movement to get people to abandon religion. That is just subversive.

Actually its probably one of the best movements we could get going. Lets abandon myth and start looking at the world logically. And it would be one less thing to use to justify killing each other.

Re:Anti-religion (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628641)

What better way to separate church and state than to get people to excercise their right to remove the Religion line item from their tax return? Eventually the government will take the hint.

-matthew

Re:Anti-religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628648)

Fuck religion.

New times, same old church (1)

fizzix (893004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628436)

This just goes to show that if churchs want to keep people envolved they need to change to meet what people want / can tolerate. The tax thing is just silly, it is like a resturant adding tip to your bill for you. Once churches relize that they are a service then they will start to change for the better.

Re:New times, same old church (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628503)

LOL, good point! As a matter of fact, there are basically no tips in Finland. Waitresses actually get paid by the restaurant. (You can tip but it's not expected.)

Re:New times, same old church (1)

HelloKitty (71619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628553)

// This just goes to show that if churchs want to keep people envolved they need to change to meet // what people want / can tolerate. The tax thing is just silly, it is like a resturant adding tip // to your bill for you. Once churches relize that they are a service then they will start to change // for the better.

Yep. That's just survival of the fittest at work.
For more information read up [btclick.com] on meme theory [wikipedia.org] .
Religeon propogates like a virus.

Lemme tell ya somethin' 'bout church and state. (4, Insightful)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628454)

Consider Europe:

In the Middle Ages, the states in Europe were relatively weak next to the Catholic Church; the Vatican maintained the Empire Rome had left behind. As individual states became more powerful and less subservient to the Vatican, the idea of a "law higher than the state" remained; this was used to justify England's Magna Carta, the USA's Declaration of Independence, and the French Revolution. In the case of Vatican City, the idea of church as an independent state remains.

Consider Asia:

Marx and Lenin would never approve of the superstitions that continue to dominate Chinese culture after the Communist revolution; yet any religion that dares to become popular is immediately cracked down upon. Why? It's competition to the official state religion, Communism. Even today, China is no more Communist than, say, the United States of America, yet the Church of Mao remains as active as ever -- and remains the state religion.

Every state has its official religion, and every church represents a government with its own laws and enforcement.

Even in the USA, getting back to said Declaration of Independence, the principles behind it need not be defended so much as practiced; as an exercise, walk through the individual grievances against the King listed therein and count how many could apply to the current government of the United States.

Organized religion is either co-opted by a government or competing with it. All governments are theocracies, and all religions are independent states.

The state is a church, and the church is a state.

Given that, what does "Separation of church and state" really mean, anyway?

Re:Lemme tell ya somethin' 'bout church and state. (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628554)

The state is a church, and the church is a state.
All squares are rectangles and all rectangles are squares?

Adherence to the rules of a state is compulsory; adherence to the rules of a religion is not. This is in the modern, Western, context. The historical role of the RC church as state-builder and kingmaker cannot be denied, but it also cannot be used when discussing the role of religion in re: statehood today, and it especially cannot be extrapolated to other religions.

Re:Lemme tell ya somethin' 'bout church and state. (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628622)

Organized religion is either co-opted by a government or competing with it. All governments are theocracies, and all religions are independent states. The state is a church, and the church is a state. Given that, what does "Separation of church and state" really mean, anyway?

The difference is the source by which they claim to derive their authority. Religions claim to derive their authority from god(s) while governments claim to derive their authority from the people.

That's about the only difference, though.

Re:Lemme tell ya somethin' 'bout church and state. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628644)

At least one thing - that the current secular leadership (regardless whether elected or birthed) does not enforce membership in a particular theologic organization. Remember the fate of adherents to Roman Catholicism in England during the 1500s. An individuial could be summarily executed for being not a member of the religion which was created to allow fuckwad the eighth to divorce. Sort like the fate of many in contemporary theocracies. This fact was on the minds of the framers of the Constitution because many early settlers fled to the colonies to escape religious persecution.

Errata (4, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628680)

In the Middle Ages, the states in Europe were relatively weak next to the Catholic Church;

Well, it varied; Henry of England managed to start his own competing church just in order to remarry and Philip of France plundered the Church whenever he needed a buck.

the Vatican maintained the Empire Rome had left behind.

If you mean the actual roman empire, it was of course Greek Orthodox and maintained (spiritually at least) by the Patriarchate until being overrun by Islamic forces. If you mean the Holy Roman Empire, it was an implacable enemy of the Vatican and fought innumerable wars against the Popes.

As individual states became more powerful and less subservient to the Vatican, the idea of a "law higher than the state" remained; this was used to justify England's Magna Carta,

Partly, yeah.

the USA's Declaration of Independence,

This was justified in Deist or Humanist terms, not Christian and certainly not Catholic ones.

and the French Revolution.

You mean the well-known atheist humanist movement which wiped out a good chunk of France's Christian clergy?!?!

In the case of Vatican City, the idea of church as an independent state remains.

No. A state directly controlled by the church remains. There used to be several such states, now there's only one. I don't think anybody goes from this to considering the remaining state and the church to be the same; it's just that one is based in, and forms the government of, the other.

Anyway, you get the idea...

The exit interview (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628469)

When I went through this process, it was not yet possible to resign through Internet. I had to visit the church office and the priest wanted to have a serious discussion with me. I was a bit rude and cut it short...

Re:The exit interview (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628559)

Good for you, they only try to make you feel bad about taking the rational step.

Finnish Line (3, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628472)

Internet used to get people out of sending money to the church? Splits voluntary religious power from mandatory state power?

I see a new threat to Freedom lurking on the horizon, ready to enter the Republican Party platform as "them" in the "us vs them" Terror War just in time for 2006 Campaign Season.

Didn't I hear about some "Cathedral vs Bazaar" terrorist manifesto praising the Finnish cyberterrorists attacking America's beloved Microsoft?

We've got to rip these Internets out by the roots!

Re:Finnish Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628649)

"I see a new threat to Freedom lurking on the horizon, ready to enter the Republican Party platform"

The Republican Party is not a threat to Freedom... just so you know...

Al a carte government services time has come (4, Interesting)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628473)

The exodus from the Church of Finland is just another example of the desire of citizens to opt out of certain government services that do not serve them. As an American I would like to opt out of Social Security, farm subsidies, K-12 public schools, and public television.

Re:Al a carte government services time has come (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628539)

Uh, the church is not a government service. It is subsidized by the government. There is a difference. Same in many European countries--I ditched my Swiss catholic church membership; they're even more expensive than in Finland. Guess when I buy the farm they'll just put me in the Soylent Green blenders. :-)

Farm subsidies also don't fit here; that's just waste, not something you "opt out" of.

And while I agree about European-style "public" television, paid for by involuntary license fees if you have a TV, no, you cannot decide not to have fire dept. coverage, get out of sending your children to school.

Re:Al a carte government services time has come (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628687)

I would like to opt out of Social Security, farm subsidies, K-12 public schools, and public television.


Feel free to move to someplace that doesn't have any of these services then.

There's a rather large number of African countries that don't, as well as some remaining in Central Asia. I'm sure you'll find a country with no social safety net far more pleasurable and enjoyable to live in.

Note -- do not move to Western Europe, Australia, or increasingly large areas of Eastern Europe, Asia, or South America. All of them have social safety nets that vastly exceed those of the US. Often with lower taxes.

As a non-citizen you may find that the Middle East provides similar lack-of-services to you as well. Enjoy.

Heretics!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628504)

The Flying Spagetti Monster created all life as we know it. Please wake up from your delusions about "Christianity", "Islam", "Hindu", and all other religions. When you die you will NOT go to heaven with our BEER VOLCANO, and out STRIPPER FACTORY. Our religion has every Friday a religous holiday. We also advocate loose moral standards. Convert before it is too late!! Eternal abstenence from pasta awaits non-believers. Pastafarianism is the one true religion.

Re:Heretics!!! (0, Offtopic)

eosp (885380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628668)

We shall not eat our God.

about time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628506)

about time _some_ humans resign from their stupidity

That Internet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628541)

What can't it do?

Why is this on /.? (0, Offtopic)

psymastr (684406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628607)

Is this News for nerds? I submitted a story the other day about Bill Gates' left toe being slightly bigger than his right and it got rejected. And *this* thing comes through? Come on!

Re:Why is this on /.? (1)

Frightening (976489) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628679)

It's about the internet and it's role in bringing down some religious group. It's MADE for slashdot.

THIS is what the first amendment means (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628608)

This is what separation of church and state means. It does not mean that private citizens or politicans are prohibited from openly expressing religious views in public or on government facilities. It means that the United States cannot establish an official state religion or for all intents and purposes do so by providing funding to one. There is nothing even stopping a government from funding all "real religions" (ie something that is not obviously a bullshit scam like Scientology).

Re:THIS is what the first amendment means (1)

Moqui (940533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628681)

Excellent young one -- The Lord Xenu will have a place for you when his reign once again extends to the small planet "Earth".

Please await the DC-10s in a cornfield near Topeka.

pff (-1, Offtopic)

shnot (971777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628636)

you assholes, not paying up, HOW IS GOD SUPPOSED TO FEED THE BABY JESUS, NOW? oh yeah...that omnipotence thing...maybe jesus needs a new pair of those weird-kid boots with buckles and spikes 'n shit all over 'em. he kinda strikes me as a rebel...

Looking Deeper (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15628638)

Everyone's knee-jerk reaction is to say 'good for you' but I wonder how much of a part their church instidution plays in providing support and services we now associate with government. Are these taxes simply lining the coffers or going to things such as a version of welfare and social services?

the term "state church" is a little misleading (2, Interesting)

haupz (970545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628661)

...at least from a German point of view, which is quite naturally the only one I can have with regard to this topic. ;-) That term suggests that the church is somehow an official organ of the state. In Germany, that is not true. The churches (!) that are officially acknowledged as churches (!) by the state have the right to have their members pay taxes. This has been laid down in "concordats", i.e., treaties between state and churches, several of which exist since 1924. The churches themselves are still independent, and so is the state. It's not too much money, by the way. Not a reason for me to resign from my church anyway. Which, in turn, is just a personal opinion, of course. :-)

Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Y.T.G. (964304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15628672)

I wonder ... is paying the church tax helps you advance into heaven?!
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