Germany’s Church tax is not the problem

SIR – Dr Seferta’s suggestions for the German Church (Letter, August 18) deserve to be considered according to their intrinsic merits, but we cannot see that they address the fundamental problems.

Whatever one thinks of the Church tax in principle, it is a progressive tax levied in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The rich pay according to their means and the poorest pay nothing. So we doubt whether many of the opters-out can seriously plead poverty.

As for married priests and women deacons, German Lutheran clergy have, of course, been marrying for five centuries, while women began entering the ministry in the 1920s and by 2013 made up 58 per cent of ministerial students, so Dr Seferta might expect the Lutheran Church to be in relatively good shape. In reality, it is in a desperate plight, suffering even more resignations than the Catholic Church while barely four per cent of its nominal members regularly attend a service.

A better starting point for a vision of renewal might be Tim Stanley’s cover story in the same issue, practically all of which is just as relevant to Germany as to Britain.

Alan and Franziska Norman

Cambridge

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