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Icelandic State “Owes Church Billions"

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Icelandic State “Owes Church Billions"

Stokkseyrarkirkja

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The National Church of Iceland has criticized the financial plan of the Government in a formal letter from the church council and the combined bishops. The financial plan is currently going through parliament.

The letter, signed by the Bishop of Iceland, says that the State owes the National Church an extra ISK 1.7 billion (EUR 14.6/USD 18.9 million) per year due to continuing underpayments.

It is claimed that amounts have not been correctly calculated for several years and that the State is therefore now in debt to the church.

“There was a state of emergency in 2008, but not today. If people do not comply with obligations then people must find other reasons for the reduction,” head of the church council Oddur Einarsson told Vísir.

The National Church’s claim against the state is based on a 1997 agreement between church and state on how levels of funding were to be calculated. This generous agreement was discontinued in the financial crisis of 2008. The church also claims that parish dues have not been transferred fully to the church, with the treasury keeping some back each year for public works.

The church’s claim comes at a time when the existence of a publicly funded state religion in Iceland is a regular topic of debate, with many wanting to see a separation of Church and State.

2,500 people resigned from the church last year, yet despite the shrinking congregation, the church will receive more than ISK 100 million more this year from the State than it did last year.

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