Come All Ye Faithful Taxpayers Christmas is for Church Members, Say German Politicians

People attending midnight mass at German churches may have to bring their tax returns with them in the future, if two politicians have their way: They've called for Christmas services to be confined to regular visitors who pay church tithes.

Will it become harder to get into German churches at Christmas?

Will it become harder to get into German churches at Christmas?

German politicians have said midnight mass on Christmas Eve should be reserved for people who have paid their church tax.

Thomas Volk, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, said many regular churchgoers were angry that they can't get a seat because of the onslaught on churches at Christmas.

He told Bild newspaper: "I'm in favor of having church services on December 24 open only for people who pay church tax."

Germany's Catholic and Protestant churches are still largely funded by tithes, which are collected by the federal tax office. Germans have the right to opt out of paying tithes -- by leaving their church.

So it upsets some tithe-paying religious folk to find their normally underpopulated churches crowded with people at the holidays. The head of the business-friendly Free Democrats in the Berlin city assembly gave support to Volk's proposal, telling Bild that members should be handed tickets to guarantee them a seat during a crowded service.

It remains unclear how such rules should be enforced -- or whether people attending midnight mass should bring their tax returns with them.



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