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Taxpayers in Belgium support religion to the tune of €415 million a year
The debate on subsidies for religion in Belgium is back on the table, writes Newsmonkey. Open VLD chairwoman Gwendolyn Rutten (pictured) recently brought up the issue of the public funding of religions, which amounts to about €415 million per year, an amount that is not distributed fairly, writes Het Nieuwsblad.
The federal government pays the salaries and pensions of clergy, municipalities pay for the upkeep of churches and provinces pay for larger buildings such as cathedrals. All that adds up to €415 million per year, confirms the National Bank in the newspaper.
Moreover, the distribution of funds is no longer reflective of the current situation in Belgium which recognises six religions. The Catholic Church still receives more than 80% of all subsidies, although this is no longer commensurate with its size. Islam, by comparison, gets only a small percentage of the subsidies, despite its growing number of followers.
A change to the outdated legislation will not happen before 2019 because the current government has little support for the delicate issue. Furthermore, the constitutional article that regulates funding is not revisable until after the next election.