Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Return of Confiscated Church Property

The Czech Parliament recently approved a plan to return valuable property that was confiscated by the Communist government back to the original Roman Catholic Church owners.  The total value of the returned amount equals about $7 billion, which would be given back over 30 years.  The Czech president can now approve or veto the deal to make it official, but there are enough votes to overturn a veto.  See the short story here.

This story is interesting and relevant for us in a few ways.  First, it illustrates again how the fate of churches so often depends on their relationships with the government.  Second, it demonstrates how large the stakes may be for some church-state interactions.

But the sentence that really caught my eye was this one:
Under the plan, the churches would become independent from the state and gradually stop getting government financing.
It is not clear whether the author means that the Catholic Church would stop receiving any money from the government, or if only the facilities on the returned properties would stop receiving government funds.  My guess is the later, but I welcome clarification.  As I understand it (and I welcome correction from a reader), the Czech government subsidizes officially recognized religions, of which the Roman Catholic Church is one.  So ending the subsidy to the Church would be a significant change.

It remains to be seen how this affects the long-run success of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic.  They were once the dominant religious body but are now around 10% of the country's population.  Czechs are also known for being some of the least religious in all of Europe.

1 comment:

  1. That's a lot of money, the whole Czech Republic GDP is 215 Billion Dollars, to where 7 billion dollars is equal to 3.2 percent of GDP. I am not sure what government revenue is but considering that their corporate tax is 19% and there sales and income taxes are 20% and 15% and assuming they collect around 15- 20 percent of GDP per year, this land if sold over 30 years would provide the government around an extra 1% of disposable income per year!


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