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Internet Dismantling the State Church In Finland 547

Posted by timothy
from the way-way-up-for-fsm dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Finnish secular web site that facilitates electronic resignation from the Finnish state church gained wide attention in the media this week. A gay rights TV panel discussion was followed by thousands resigning from the church. On Wednesday, 2633 people resigned through the web site, which is more than all the resignations in July. The Internet is secularizing the Finnish with increasing speed; over 90% of resignations in Finland go through the site administered and marketed by hobbyists driving Finland towards a secular, non-religious state."
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Internet Dismantling the State Church In Finland

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  • Moral authority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thue (121682) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:09AM (#33916160) Homepage

    And note that what is driving people away is the immorality of the church. Which is ironic, given that the church probably defines itself as the high bastion of morality.

    • Re:Moral authority (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RichiH (749257) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:24AM (#33916208) Homepage

      No, it's not ironic as people automatically hold them to higher standards for exactly that reason.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by KDR_11k (778916)

        Since this exodus was caused by gay bashing it looks more like the morality the church preaches is no longer suitable for the modern times.

      • Re:Moral authority (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday October 16, 2010 @08:50AM (#33916876) Homepage Journal

        No, it's not ironic as people automatically hold them to higher standards for exactly that reason.

        Give me a time in history when people have held the church to a higher moral standard.

        The church has been corrupt at least since about 300AD around the time of the Council of Nicea (and it was political before then). You want popes who kill and rape and are hungry for power? You want priests who abuse? You want catamites? You want greed? You want hypocracy? You want genocide? The church has it all. They are the poster boys for the Seven Deadly Sins. Why do you think they call them "Cardinal" Sins? Because all of the Cardinals commit them.

        No, brother, the church has never, ever been held to a "higher standard". If anything, people have come to expect that priests will be alcoholic and/or pedophiliac/lazy/arrogant/greedy. It's become a cliche. We're pleasantly surprised when we find one who isn't.

        And it's not just the Roman Church. If I say "pastor of a megachurch" what's the first thing that comes to mind? Some hairsprayed, holier-than-though, gay-hating, right-wing prig who gets caught sniffing crank off the butt of some rent-boy.

        "Higher standard" my ass.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          The church has been corrupt at least since about 300AD around the time of the Council of Nicea (and it was political before then).

          Hell, why stop there? Go back enough and even the messiah was a convicted criminal! When the founder of your religion is more badass than Ron L. Hubbard, I think there's a message in that for all of us(*)

          (*) And that message is: Love is a verb... and verbs show action! Xenu, I'm gonna bust you up. I pity the fool!

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Details? I mean, apart from the usual stories we hear about the Roman Catholic Church? Are there specific instances of the Finnish state church being out of sync with modern morals?
      • Re:Moral authority (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ecyrd (51952) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:32AM (#33916408)

        Yes. This particular incident comes from the fact that the majority of people (according to polls) do agree that equality is a good thing and that gay people should be allowed to marry and adopt children.

        However, the church disagrees, and because they have a government-given monopoly on defining marriage, there's a bit of a crisis now.

        (You can kind of get a marriage-like thing from the government, but it's legally not the same thing.)

        • So wouldn't the correct procedure be to get MORE people to join the Church and lobby internally for change? Now all that's left in there are the hardliners who blocked gay marriage in the first place.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by SuricouRaven (1897204)
            I'm not familiar with this particular church, but churches in general tend not to be democratic - the common people in the pews don't actually get to vote, or have any influence at all over church policy. If you want to alter a church from within, you can't do it as an ordinary member. The only way to do so is to join the clergy, which does give you some say over the policies - an influence increasing as you go up in the ranks. As going up in the ranks depends upon agreeing with the existing doctrine, this
        • As a guy who's going to go to church in a few hours, I'm perfectly fine with being married seen as a right. A priest might not want to bless gay unions or find it against his faith, and I'm fine with it too. But since marriage has implication on civil rights and status, no discrimination is acceptable on a political and social level. Religious leader should simply say, I don't care what laws say, marry other sex, and their followers should obey or protest *in the contest of their faith, not because religion

        • by hitmark (640295)

          (You can kind of get a marriage-like thing from the government, but it's legally not the same thing.)

          Because of ritual or because of legal content? If its because of ritual then i would say to get over it, as rituals can be remade.

          That is the last hold of religion, the performance of rituals.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by andymadigan (792996)
          I admit I know nothing of Finnish law, but in the U.S. (and I believe most other Western countries) you CAN get an actual marriage from the government. It's real and carries the exact same legal weight as a marriage. I'm not talking about a civil union, that's totally different. You can be married by a justice of the peace, it's done at city halls and the like every weekday in every city. However, when gays tried to get married they were refused marriage licenses. In some areas it was found that this had no
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Kumiorava (95318)

            Yes, in Finland it's possible to marry at "maistraatti", which is similar to a city hall. Also the discussion about the church not allowing the gays to marry is slightly misunderstood. The real issue is that Finnish law doesn't allow gays to marry, they allow them to form a "registered union". Registered union is very close to a marriage in all but few issues:

            * Ability to adopt children outside of the family. (if there is already a child in the family they can adopt him/her)
            * Automatic right to take a new l

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Are there specific instances of the Finnish state church being out of sync with modern morals?

        I don't know enough about the specifics but this story seems to imply that they are adopting a position of promoting homophobia. Even amongst those uncomfortable with homosexuality (which I'd say quite a few people are), I think most people would consider actively promoting that sort of prejudice to be immoral.

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          Well, yeah, I meant to imply "apart from TFA". This is Slashdot but I haven't progressed to a stage where I can't even be arsed to read the summary anymore.
      • Re:Moral authority (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cobrian (679128) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:46AM (#33916450) Homepage
        The premise for the televised debate was the rights of gay couples vs. the rights of heterosexual couples. What gay couples have here is a registered partnership, which has the inheritance and most social support rights of marriage, but excludes any adoption rights. Therefore most gay parents are marked as single parents, but still don't get full monetary support, since they are in a relationship (this does apply to non-married heterosexual couples as well, where the other party is not the biological parent). Also there was talk about the "stigma" of being in an apartheid-type of relationship, basically they want to change the civil marriage law so it would be gender neutral. This ofcourse brings out all the God-fearing mongrels with their Biblical opposition.

        What really makes the situation funny is the fact that even the Evangelical-Lutheran church itself is pretty divided on the issue. There have been a few (primarily female) priests that have blessed gay couples after they have registered their civil relationship. Also the fact that most of the big religions have the right to issue marriage certificates, but still have the choice to refuse service to anyone they don't deem fit is an issue to some. The biggest issue is the state church (Evangelical-Lutheran) getting funds directly from taxes, which are paid by all members registered to the church. The average payout is 1,5%. They calculated the church lost 1,5 M in tax revenue for next year due to this debate.

        Basically, it's the church that opposes giving legitimate status to families already in existence, and because we have a Christian party in the parliament, they're fighting the lefties and the greens all the way. Even getting the current partnership law thru took multiple tries over several terms.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The irony is that the Bible pretty much says Jesus was gay, or at least bisexual. He hung around with half naked young men and lived with one "as a man lives with his wife." It was only later that various saints and popes came along and decided it was bad.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      And note that what is driving people away is the immorality of the church. Which is ironic, given that the church probably defines itself as the high bastion of morality.

      What's driving people away is the conflict between their moral values and those of the church. Hopefully, this will force the church to re-examine its stance on various issues and improve, resulting in the world getting a tiny bit better.

      I've never really understood the obsession with sexuality Christianity seems to have. Homosexuality is

      • by Iskender (1040286)

        I've never really understood the obsession with sexuality Christianity seems to have. Homosexuality is mentioned a few times in the Bible in the same context as the evils of eating shellfish and wearing clothes with multiple fabrics, yet religious people ignore the rest and focus all their energy on this one thing. Even adultery, which is condemned far more times, receives nowhere near this much attention.

        While we both probably accept homosexuality equally much, I feel like pointing out that it's not just Leviticus (the shellfish part) which condemns homosexuality. Having read the Bible recently, I seem to remember that homosexuality was condemned several times in the old testament and at least once (explicitly) in the new testament. Jesus might even have forbidden it himself FWIW, but I can't say I remember that clearly.

        Playing along with the ideas for sexual morality a bit, one should say that two wrongs d

        • Once in the NT, yes. I forget the exact verse, but it's in Romans. It's also the only place in the bible that may mention lesbianism - the OT condemnations are very explicitly only condemning male homosexuality - but, as with much of the bible, the language is archaic enough that it's exact translation and meaning are not entirely clear.
      • by sznupi (719324)

        Certainly not all are closet gays, but it might as well be more common than in the general population. First, I know that for some priests (can't say for how many in this case, though) it's a case of hoping for vows of chastity helping them to not sin, basically. Secondly, a buddy (himself a gay) who tried to get into monastery claims that at least 1/3rd of brethren (at this one particular monastery) also were.

        As for general obsession with sexuality, it's almost certainly a matter of those practices simply

    • by sznupi (719324) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:52AM (#33916468) Homepage

      It's not too weird if one looks at their god from the perspective of dystheism, maltheism [wikipedia.org] or gnosticism (if only those weren't also suppressed a long time ago as "heretics" - but hey, it's something the Demiurge would want ;p )

      Also, one old Usenet posting [google.com] writing about it much better that I could in a reasonable amount of time. Maybe this one [google.com], too.

      • by houghi (78078)

        Those links are a MUST READ. Wow. Great stuff.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Saint Stephen (19450)

        There are two concepts in Christianity that address these issues - Faith and Grace.

        Some critics have defined faith as "believing in what you know isn't true." But the essence of faith (in general) is that you'r supposed to subjegate your own ego/reason and trust another. Some people will call this Doublethink, but Faith means not rushing to a judgement based on a usenet posting constructed by a simple Human - God has a bigger plan.

        Grace is another concept by which you get to an enlightened state even thou

        • by sznupi (719324) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @08:46AM (#33916862) Homepage

          Ignoring of course who supposedly gave us that reason; an act which to fully get appreciated would need now to be... relinquished? OK... (nice how that faith works BTW, simply dispelling taking a broader look at what it holds dear, also just on the basis of where that look is hosted). And yes, congregations and their rituals evolved to induce mystical feelings, we know that. There are much easier ways if you want those.

          Yes, people are generally bastards (which is of course the most straightforward reason why their gods and organizations are, too). However, certainly when looking at all the stats of positive societal factors, there is a very strong correlation between them and levels of organic secularism in a given place. BTW I can't speak much about French Revolution or Khmer Rouge, but I had a decently intimate insight into workings of European-area Warsaw Pact - and "strangely" enough, virtually all Party members were closet Christians, their kids baptized, attending services in the country, etc. With general level of religiosity still there and, at most, regimes usually trying to introduce on top of it their new state religions.

          (there's another curious correlation BTW - take a look at a world map, take note of places which are historically strongly "old" Christian; now take note of places which had major problems with "communism" - notice any interesting overlap? I suspect it boils down to continuing reverberations of strong feudalism typical of those societies; certainly some sort of continuum - you thinking how it's a case of clear opposition, how it is sensible to use it as such, is another confusion on your part similar to one pointed out by the first of linked usenet postings)

    • by it0 (567968)

      That is exactly the problem of religion. They all promote morals and standards. But it's not the church who make them, it's a group of people. which can be different kinds of people, think of familiy,friends, work, etc. Although their morals and standards will overlap they can change between those groups. Furthermore those morals change over time, the reason why things like slavery is no longer accepted and gay rights are. This is the same reason why over there have been religions before christianity and is

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:13AM (#33916168)

    Finland is a secular state, don't let the two state churches fool you. The Lutheran one is basically like the archetypical izzardesque Anglican Church or Unitarian Universalists (we drink more coffee though), and the Orthodox one is just kinda ethnic. Finns go to church for Christmas, weddings and funerals, and stay with the church mainly for those things (and godfathering or godmothering), not for some religious impulse.

    I myself resigned from the church a couple years back using eroakirkosta.fi after I started getting the local parish paper... to no avail, they just switched the recipient to my room-mate, who also subsequently decided to resign as well. The process was easy and painless, but don't tell my family: I might have to give back all those Confirmation gifts.

    • by voss (52565) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:50AM (#33916282)

      More likely its that Finns dont want to pay the 1.3% church tax that church members have to pay.

      • by tengwar (600847)

        Probably, although I suspect that it also reflects people who left the church years or decades ago in practical terms.

        One thing I find amusing about endless American discussions about the separation of church and state is that for many Christians, this is one of our important beliefs. I live in England (specifically England, don't confuse with the UK). We have a state church, the Church of England. Until the 60's farmers had to pay tax (tithes) to the C of E, even if they belonged to non-conformist churches

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by antifoidulus (807088)
        Just out of curiosity does paying the tax guarantee you a spot in the cemetery? I know a couple Germans that pay the tithe simply so they will have a spot in the cemetery, otherwise the spot just gets "rented" and they cremate the body a couple years after you die.
      • by sznupi (719324) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @07:40AM (#33916624) Homepage

        And how many believers would choose to formally break links with their church for such small (considering the eternity...) savings?

        No, those people shouldn't have been counted as members a long time ago. It's just that up to know they didn't care, even despite 1.3% (hey, good for some traditional services)

  • Cool idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:15AM (#33916172)

    Someone should do the same for the Catholic Church. There are a great many "lapsed Catholics" who are nevertheless counted as full members in good standing when politicians decide what demographics are large enough to be worth pandering to.

    You have to explicitly request excommunication [atheistfoundation.org.au] in order to be dropped from the church rolls, and that's really only the beginning of the process, as they may not let you go without a fight. It would be nice if there were a site that made it easier for those whose consciences no longer permit them to be counted among the Church's numbers to take this first step.

    • Re:Cool idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:22AM (#33916192)

      Sounds nice but at least here in America the problems mainly come from protestant denominations, particularly southern and midwestern ones...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here in America the problems mainly come from people who believe stupid shit without demanding accountability from the people who told them the stupid shit. The stupid shit certainly isn't confined to one specific religious tradition or denomination.

    • by houghi (78078)

      In Germany this is (was?) possible. Not only would you be no longer a member of the church, you would also not pay any taxes anymore towards the church. Not that much money, probably about (currently) 2 or 3 EUR, but I would love to have that option in Belgium.

      Now part of my taxes go to religion even though I never was a follower of any religion and was not baptized.

      Understand that I am all for freedom of religion, as long as I do not have to be involved in any way. This does not mean I agree with the insti

    • And for Islam as well. Though in certain countries signing your real name as an apostate will help you lose some weight, the human head weighs about 5 kg.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @10:53AM (#33917556)

      "You have to explicitly request excommunication"

      Boring. Just make them WANT to excommunicate you. It's much more fun.

  • by 2phar (137027) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:16AM (#33916180)
    Ireland has had a popular equivalent in http://countmeout.ie/ [countmeout.ie] for some time.. It seems it has been so popular that, as of August, the catholic church actually changed their 'canon law' so that defection is no longer available!!
    • by bjoernfan (1432455) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:20AM (#33916376)
      And in Sweden we have http://uturkyrkan.se/ [uturkyrkan.se] ("Out of the church"). They have a nice slogan too; "Ut ur saligheten, in i verkligheten" meaning "Exit the divine, enter reality". I think the church tax is 0.9%, but that might include a "funeral fee".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        Here the Portuguese Atheist Association has posted the instructions on how to send the letter of apostasy. It's not hard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nospam007 (722110) *

        In Luxembourg the site to leave church is called www.fraiheet.lu which translates to 'Freedom'.

    • the catholic church actually changed their 'canon law' so that defection is no longer available!!

      No need for that. According to catholic theological doctrine, baptism is irreversible.
      According to catholicism, once you're baptised, you are in for life (and beyond that ;-),
      completely regardless of any action that you may undertake. No, not even excommunication
      throws you out for good, you just lose some rights within the church system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:25AM (#33916212)

    The latest statistics for those that have resigned via the eroakirkosta.fi service are available at http://mpolla.net/ek/ it's very clear to see a huge spike starting from 14.10.2010 just after the panel discussion mentioned. Myself being an atheist and a Secular Humanist I'm very pleased to see that when the state church made it's view of homosexuals clear, many people decided that they could no longer reconcile being a part of such a close-minded organization. My hope is that this is the "straw that broke the camels back" and will lead to the total separation of church and state in Finland like in Sweden (yes Finland still has a state church)

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:46AM (#33916264)

    This is a classic base Vs. stakeholders issue - when the organization (church in this case) fails to represent a view compatible with its base, and so long as it doesn't hold some critical resource away from its base, it will lose that base.

    The usual resolution of such disputes is not the organization changing though - it is either a major structural failure of the organization followed by minimal changes, or the organization deciding threaten its base into staying in more harsh terms. This happens particularly often in politics.

    Why do organizations tend to act this way? Because they virtually always exist to serve the stakeholders first, and not to serve the base they were designed to represent, whatever their origin. This is based on the idea that one has to serve one's own interest before they can logically be able to serve others - and carries through to individual members decisions to either serve the organizations resource gathering, or suppress others altruistic actions, more often than deciding to actually act altruistically through the organization. In other words, organizations select for selfishness towards the organization, and against other factors like serving those not as much a part of the organization.

    So, leave all you want - even if it threatens to destroy the church, as long as the stakeholders can be comfortable with the process, it's just those fickle folks straying from the true path. But the second a true insider nails something to the Church door, then suddenly its something meaningful.

    See also most group disputes inside the Democratic/Republican parties - it takes core insiders to cause the party to blink. The base falling apart is just unfortunate noise. Reality ignored all over the place, when it doesn't serve the interests of the core shareholders.

    Same thing with most businesses, unions, communes, mutual funds, and so on - they all organize, then tend to find themselves more unresponsive to their base over time.

    Ryan Fenton

    • by houghi (78078)

      Religion is a different matter. If for whatever reason your faith says that something is unacceptable, you can not change that faith just because the majority of your base thinks it is wrong. That would mean changing your faith.

      Faith should not be a numbers game to get as many people to believe what you do. It should be that YOU do what you think is right.

      The problem with most religion leaders is that they say that everybody who is not for them is against them and that it IS a numbers game, because of the p

    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @07:07AM (#33916506) Homepage

      I would also point out that it's a church, by definition it's supposed to represent the will of $deity not the opinions of the general population or its members. In the old testament God drowned the world except for those on Noah's Ark. He obliterated entire cities like Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins. The argument that it is right because it is popular is quite well contradicted in scripture. There are many references to staying on the narrow path, that to stray and be sinful is easy while to stay true and rightous is hard. That people accept sin as normality is to them only proof the world has become a den of sin again. It is not a reason to question their own beliefs.

      • by arikol (728226) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @07:49AM (#33916658) Journal

        ..yet the pope pissed on Purgatory, stating that was not in line with the church's modern views.

        Sorry, but RyanFenton is right. Faith and belief have little in common with organized religion. Organized religion is about manipulation, not faith.

        So church does not equal faith.

        But then, I'm against both.

  • Fees (Score:2, Interesting)

    The only thing that prevents me from leaving the catholic church in germany is the fee that I have to pay in order to get out. It's 30 (~42$) and a visit to the local court. I don't know if you have to pay a fee in finland.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The only thing that prevents me from leaving the catholic church in germany is the fee that I have to pay in order to get out. It's 30 (~42$) and a visit to the local court. I don't know if you have to pay a fee in finland.

      No fee in Finland. I find it quite strange that an organization could charge a person for leaving it.

  • by morten poulsen (220629) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @05:53AM (#33916294) Homepage

    The Danish website https://www.ingenkirkeskat.dk/ [ingenkirkeskat.dk] (no church tax dot dk) has been up for a few years. I used it to resign from the church, and got the additional bonus of saving 0,80% income tax. The site says he (it's a one man operation) has saved Danish tax payers DKK 123'535'000 (EUR 16'500'000) so far. His fee is DKK 99 (EUR 13), because in Denmark it has to be done in hardcopy.

  • We can do it by snail mail only, but we've got an unofficial online counter: http://sbattezzati.it/ [sbattezzati.it]
  • Church tax?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tbird81 (946205) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:18AM (#33916370)

    Living in NZ this astounds me! When I was a kid, mum used to give us coin each (20c, 50c or so) to put in the collection basket at our Catholic church. And I know some of the fundie religions (especially the evil Destiny Church) get all their fools to donate 10% of their income. But an actual church tax - now that's messed up.

    I don't think there's such thing as paying to register/deregister at a church either.

    Anyway, since I declined confirmation in my teens I'm now a reformed Catholic - an atheist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ecyrd (51952)

      It's not only income tax. Also corporations are taxed by the church, regardless of whether the personnel is a member of the church or not. The money is used to maintain graveyards and other infrastructure; including graveyards for people who don't belong to any organized religion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 16, 2010 @06:29AM (#33916402)

    First: Posting A/C since I don't want to beg for karma but would really appreciate it if many people see this since I've asked on plenty of Finnish forums but not gotten any good answer.

    When I used the site to leave the church, two elderly women rang my doorbell a few days later telling me that "Jesus has something to say to you, young man" to which I replied "tell him to send me e-mail" and shut the door. Half an hour or so later I noticed that they were still standing outside my door and whilst I obviously don't get intimidated by old ladies, I found it quite rude that they did that. Now my question for my fellow Finns is whether any of you have had the same experience? I don't know precisely who they were but obviously presume that they were from the church and suspect that they update their records manually and make such visits every time someone leaves the church. I might add that this happened in the city of Espoo.

    • by Ecyrd (51952)

      It is possible they were from a sect like the Jehova's witnesses or some such. I get regular visits too. If you tell them firmly you never want to see them again, they write your address down and never bother you again (until you move, they keep track of addresses, not people). If you chat amicably with them, they'll pop by for another visit in a few months or so.

      Most of them are quite nice and fun to chat with, but some of them can be downright rude.

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        I had some JWs visit about 18 months ago. We had a discussion about the appropriate rendition in Spanish of YHWH, they left some literature promising to come back, and didn't. Maybe they were uneasy about discussing the Bible with someone who knows at least two words of Hebrew.

    • The only religious organizations that go door-to-door are Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Neither of these say thing such as what you quoted, but perhaps you merely paraphrased it. If your house sits at the end of a street, they were probably waiting for another group to catch up to them, or perhaps just resting. Did you note if they went to any other houses besides yours? It would indeed be strange if they visited you exclusively.
  • In Greece (Score:2, Informative)

    by kyriosdelis (1100427)
    ..this can only be accomplished by visiting the register office in person. There are no fees, as far as I know.
    More information about leaving the (Greek Orthodox) Church, here [atheia.gr].
  • Past and future news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tusam (1851540)
    There was an article about this movement four years ago http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/29/136259 [slashdot.org]
    And in that October_30th (531777) made a good point which I'll quote:

    ...yet I am a member of the state church. Furthermore, I'm happy to pay the small church tax. Why? Political reasons. A functioning state church attracts religiously inspired people into one flock and under one "official" Lutheran doctrine that's very, very stable - and dare I say pseudo-secular in its tolerance towards minorities and other religions - in the long run.

    This marginalizes the influence of the more miltant lunatic (evangelical) fringe and enhances the stability of our society. I would go as far as atttributing the complete absence of a credible religious right in Finland to the existence state church.

    Those who seek the destruction of the one, monolithic state church should think about what they're wishing for.

    I think eventually after majority of the population has excluded themselves out of religious issues, we'll just get the increased number of islamic immigrants and right wing crazies fighting amongst themselves, collecting news headlines and escalating the issue.

  • Since just before summer it came to light that a Belgian bishop had been abusing his nephew throughout his career of spreading the love, 1.000s of Belgians are 'de-baptising' themselves online too, through a humanist site (ontdoping.be). The Belgian church is supposed to make a note of this in their baptism records, but no-one really knows if they do. As it happens, just this week, the Belgian archbishop released a book from which a single quote has made the media: "Aids has in it a kind of immanent justi
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @08:21AM (#33916760)

    I'm personally not religious, but I have no problem with people who are, as long as they don't act stupidly (being an American, this is something I see far too often). When taking a stupid position on a social issue can be observed directly to lead to a giant spike in defection, along with a corresponding giant financial loss, I think this gives the Church of Finland plenty of incentive to reconsider their social policies to keep up with social progress. Basically, they need to keep their customers happy for the money to continue to roll in. When opting out is easy, that just makes their work harder.

    I have no doubt that this will be a good thing for the Finnish church in the long run, and it might be a good thing for the Christian religion altogether, because the progress that will be made by the Finns will, with time, possibly trickle into the church teachings in other countries.

  • 10K broken (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ecyrd (51952) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @09:15AM (#33917006)

    As of 14.00 EEST today, 10,000 persons (~0.2% of the population) have left the state church in three days. The pace seems to be somewhat accelerating even.

    As far as PR catastrophes go, this is a fairly major one. The average tax paid by a church member is 300€/year, so this means annual losses of at least 3 M€.

  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @11:59AM (#33918002)

    The Internet is secularizing the Finnish

    If the internet is secularizing the Finnish, it isn't through this website, except for by some bureaucratic technical definition. This website is allowing those who had already been secular to easily make an official declaration of such, but it's not like devoted god-fearing true believers are finding this site and saying "you know, this internet form makes a good point. I guess since it's easy to unsubscribe from the church now, I don't believe in God anymore."

  • Opting out of Islam (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 16, 2010 @12:17PM (#33918146) Homepage

    This is starting to be available for exiting Islam. [apostatesofislam.com] There are bus ads for leaving Islam in New York. [refugefromislam.com] In countries that have freedom of religion but a big Islamic immigrant population, like the UK, France, and the Netherlands, this can work. The UK now has a Government Forced Marriage Unit [fco.gov.uk], with services for people forced into marriage by their families. (Guidance of members of Parliament: "Mediation, reconciliation, and family counseling as a response to forced marriage can be extremely dangerous. There have been cases of victims being murdered while mediation was being undertaken.")

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