Liechtenstein Considers Ending Tax Funding Of Churches

Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world, may withdraw state subsidies to churches under new legislation, even though some religious leaders object.

“This will be a drastic change,” said Markus Meidert, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liechtenstein. “We depend on financial support, and there’ll be no chance of obtaining it if the new law goes ahead “

The church currently receives half its budget from state grants.

The Catholic hierarchy is also disappointed with the legislation. Catholics account for 78 percent of the 36,000 residents of Liechtenstein, a tiny principality wedged between Austria and Switzerland. The Catholic Church receives 300,000 Swiss francs each year from the state budget and additional funds from the 11 municipalities in the country.

The bill before the 25-member parliament not only proposes that state subsidies be withdrawn from recognized religious groups but would also end the Catholic Church’s status as the official state church.