Leaving the church in nrw should also apply retroactively

Leaving the church : Leaving the church should also apply retroactively

A golden cross on the Cologne Cathedral shines in the sun. But many believers want to turn their backs on the church

Krefeld/Cologne The processing backlog at the local courts also results in a longer-lasting church tax obligation. There is legal opposition to this.

Peter Kurz

It doesn’t matter which district court you try at the moment, in Krefeld, Dusseldorf or Wuppertal – if you want to get an appointment for leaving the church and click through the judicial pages online for it, you will only ever see red on the virtual calendar. No date free until the end of June. But without an appointment you remain a church member. On the Internet side of the courts it is called: A resignation explanation in simple writing is not possible. It can be delivered only most personally."And for that you need an appointment. It is still pointed out that one can go also to the notary, who passes the explanation on then to the district court. But that would involve additional costs. Leaving the church at the courthouse costs 30 euros.

A Krefelder married couple does not want to accept the long waiting period now longer. Because every month that the two have to remain in the church against their will, precisely because it is not possible to leave, costs them church tax – for an organization that they no longer want to support.

Sample proceedings with Krefeld resignation clients

The for months also because of Corona growing traffic jam of not realized church exits causes the Institut for world view right (i) to this demand: The effectiveness of the church exit is to enter retroactively with the date, starting from which the resignation-willing this opposite the district court announces.

Departures Fewer people left the Protestant church in the Corona year 2020 than the year before it. According to preliminary figures, 10 to 20 percent fewer members have turned their backs on the church, said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairman of the EKD Council. However, church tax revenues were significantly lower due to lower incomes during the Corona crisis, he says.

Eberhard Reinecke, a lawyer from Cologne, is a member of the advisory board of i, which advocates state neutrality in matters of ideology. It wants to represent the Krefelder pair in a kind model procedure out of court, and if it must be, also judicially. How the lawyer’s reasoning works is clear from the withdrawal form developed by i, which says: "I request that you acknowledge receipt of this letter, with date, and treat me, as regards church tax, as if I had already legally resigned at the time you allow me to submit the declaration."

Attorney Reinecke says: "There is still no decision in such a matter. But the Federal Constitutional Court has already said earlier that church membership must be something voluntary. And this must then likewise refer to the annex, the church tax liability."Also otherwise it is valid in procedural regulations that procedural steps work back to the time of the submission with court. For example, if a statute of limitations expires on 31.12. expires, it would be sufficient for the complaint to be filed by that date. Reinecke is therefore confident that the withdrawal from the church applied for in court will also be treated in the same way.

"Nowhere is it so easy to get in and so difficult to get out again."

Compared to other memberships, leaving the church requires an unreasonable "hurdle race," Reinecke criticizes. "Nowhere is so easy to get in and so hard to get out of. You don’t leave the church by simply declaring your resignation to the association your parents have registered you with. Withdrawal is only effective if it is declared to the state authorities. And there, too, not with a simple letter, but with a personal visit. Fees are also charged – and these are charged to the person leaving, not to the church, for which this service is actually provided by the state."

Reinecke now argues: "At the latest from the time when I have declared my resignation in writing to the district court, my membership in the church turns into an inadmissible compulsory membership – if I cannot actually leave the church at any time."

And how does he now want to proceed in the case with the Krefeld clients, whose test case i wants to support financially?? The process, he says, could end up being two processes. First of all, if the district court does not take into account the wish to leave the church with retroactive effect, there is an appeal against this very decision. And with the tax office one would have to resist against a further computed church tax. Also judicially and if necessary even by further judicial instances.

By the way: On the website of the NRW-Justice about leaving the church you can still find these memorable sentences: "The local court is only responsible for the resignation. To join, you must contact the respective church congregation or religious community."

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