On Monday, the relationship between the Greek state and the Church of Greece became the focus of a fresh clash between the government and the main opposition SYRIZA party after a leftist MP proposed the introduction of a new tax to pay clerics’ wages. SYRIZA deputy Tasos Kourakis said that the Church should start funding itself instead of relying on dwindling state coffers. Kourakis told a conference organised by the Theology Department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki that another option would be to impose a church tax on all Greeks who declare themselves Orthodox Christians. He said that revenues from it could go toward church costs and clerics’ salaries.
The rightwing New Democracy shot down the idea, which likened the proposed tax to “Stalinist measures”. ND argued that such a levy would be unconstitutional, as it would discriminate between Greeks based on their religious beliefs. SYRIZA noted that Kourakis’s proposal was the MP’s “personal opinion”, but said that Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras had mooted a similar initiative in the fall of 2011 when the latter was head of the Foundation for Industrial and Economic Research (IOBE). Stournaras accused SYRIZA of distorting comments that he made during a TV interview, when he noted that other European citizens don’t pay clerics’ salaries through taxation without proposing however that Greece follow suit.
28 January 2013
What SYRIZA proposes is nothing more than the system in place in Germany, where citizens pay a “church tax” that goes to the church of their choice. If one isn’t religious, the money goes into a general charity fund. “Stalinist” is usually “right-speak” for “we don’t like this and we want to demonise the people making this proposal” (such as Potapov’s recent crackbrained initiative concerning “Stalingrad” in the ROCOR). In short, the SYRIZA proposal isn’t leftist at all; it’s merely fair. It simply places the burden of support of the Orthodox Church on Orthodox believers. That’s as it should be, kids… New Democracy is sinking into irrelevance along with PASOK… SYRIZA is Greece’s future, as this common-sense proposal indicates. You can have SYRIZA or you can have Golden Dawn (which is neo-Nazi, fascist, racist, and xenophobic… that’s no choice at all)… that’s the real-world choice on offer… there’s nothing else. It’s clear that SYRIZA’s the better choice.