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A tithe (from Old English teogoþa "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a (usually) voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a religious organization. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Several European countries operate a formal process linked to the tax system allowing some churches to assess tithes.

"Tithing" also has unrelated economic and juridical senses, dating back to the Early Middle Ages. See "Tithing ".

Judaism and Christianity

Some interpretations of Biblical teachings conclude that although tithing was practiced extensively in the Old Testament, it was never practiced or taught within the first-century Church. Instead the New Testament scriptures are seen as teaching the concept of "freewill offerings" as a means of supporting the church: , . Also, some of the earliest groups sold everything they had and held the proceeds in common to be used for the furtherance of the Gospel: , . Further, contains the account of a man and wife who were living in one of these groups. They sold a piece of property and donated only part of the selling price to the church but claimed to have given the whole amount and immediately 'fell down and died' when confronted by the apostle Peter over their dishonesty.

Tithes were mentioned in councils at Toursmarker in 567 and at Mâconmarker in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787.

Old Testament origins

In the time of Abraham

According to the Genesis account, Abram, returning from a battle by the Dead Seamarker, was hailed by Melchizedek, king of Salem (Jerusalemmarker) who was also the priest of El Elyon ("the Most High God") ( ):

:18. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
:19. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
:20. And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
::::(Genesis 14:18-20, Holy Bible, King James Version)


When Melchizedek appeared and offered Abram bread and wine and blessed him in the name of God, tithes were exchanged. While the biblical text is not precise in naming who actually gave the tithes, most believe Abram gave the tithes to Melchizedek. The verse records, "…and he gave him a tenth of everything;" the "he" could stand for either Melchizedek or Abram, or perhaps El Elyon Himself. A reference found in expresses the tradition that Abram gave Melchizedek the tithes, and this is the belief that is held by most Christians. indicates that Abram gave a tenth of the spoils and not necessarily all of his personal wealth. Also, this was the only reference of Abram tithing.

Later, in ( ), Abraham's grandson Jacob also made a commitment to give God back a tenth of his increase.

According to Christians, tithes are received by priests and high priests according to . This may reflect the practice in the Second Temple period following Ezra's decree penalizing the Leviim for their failure to return to Israel en masse. The Hebrew Scriptures state that there is a distinct difference between priests (kohanim), the sons of Aaron, and the Leviim, the rest of the sons of Levi. The sons of Aaron were appointed to be priests and the tribe of Levi were appointed to minister to the priests and help in sacred matters( ). The Children of Israel were commanded by God to give Bikkurim and Terumah to the kohanim and tithes to the sons of Levi. In turn, the Leviim were commanded by God to give a tithe (a tenth) of the tithes they received to a priest.

The Esretu — the standard Babylonian one-tenth tax

Hebrew is a Semitic language, related to Akkadian, the lingua franca of that time. An Akkadian noun that Abraham was most likely familiar with given his Babylonian background was esretu, meaning "one-tenth". By the time of Abraham, this phrase was used to refer to the "one-tenth tax," or "tithe". Listed below are some specific instances of the Mesopotamian tithe, taken from The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Vol. 4 "E":

[Referring to a ten per cent tax levied on garments by the local ruler:]"the palace has taken eight garments as your tithe (on 85 garments)"

"…eleven garments as tithe (on 112 garments)"
"...(the sun-god) Shamash demands the tithe..."


"four minas of silver, the tithe of [the gods] Bel, Nabu, and Nergal..."


"...he has paid, in addition to the tithe for Ninurta, the tax of the gardiner"


"...the tithe of the chief accountant, he has delivered it to [the sun-god] Shamash"


"...why do you not pay the tithe to the Lady-of-Uruk?"


"...(a man) owes barley and dates as balance of the tithe of the **years three and four"


"...the tithe of the king on barley of the town..."


"...with regard to the elders of the city whom (the king) has **summoned to (pay) tithe..."


"...the collector of the tithe of the country Sumundar..."


"...(the official Ebabbar in Sippar) who is in charge of the tithe..."


Because of this standard one-tenth tax in Babylon, Abraham of the Genesis account was most likely familiar with the concept of giving up ten-percent of goods as tax

In the time of Moses and Under Mosaic Law

The tithe is specifically mentioned in the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Numbers and also in the Book of Deuteronomy. The tithing system was organized in a 7 year cycle, corresponding to the Shemittah cycle. Every year, Bikkurim, Terumah, Ma'aser Rishon and Terumat Ma'aser were separated from the grain, wine and oil (as regards other fruit and produce, the Biblical requirement to tithe is a source of debate). The yearly tithe to the Levites could be consumed anywhere. On years one, two, four and five of the Shemittah cycle, God commanded the Children of Israel to take a second tithe that was to be brought to the city of Jerusalemmarker. The owner of the produce was to separate and bring 1/10 of his finished produce to Jerusalem after separating Terumah and the first tithe, but if the family lived too far from Jerusalem, the tithe could be redeemed upon coins. Then, the Bible required the owner of the redeemed coins to spend the tithe "to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish." Implicit in the commandment was an obligation to spend the coins on items meant for human consumption. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the second tithe could be brought to Jerusalem any time of the year and there was no specific obligation to bring the second tithe to Jerusalem for the Festival of Sukkot. The only time restriction was a commandment to remove all the tithes from one's house in the end of the third year.

The third year was called "the year of tithing" in which the Israelites set aside 10% of the increase of the land, they were to give this tithe to the Levites, strangers, orphans, and widows. These tithes were in reality more like taxes for the people of Israel and were mandatory, not optional giving. This tithe was distributed locally "within thy gates" to support the Levites and assist the poor.

The Levites, also known as the tribe of Levi, were descendants of Levi. They were assistants to the Israelite priests (who were the children of Aaron and, therefore,a subset of the Tribe of Levi) and did not own or inherit a territorial patrimony . Their function in society was that of temple functionaries, teachers and trusted civil servants who supervised the weights and scales and witnessed agreements. The goods donated from the other Israeli tribes were their source of sustenance. They received from "all Israel" a tithe of food or livestock for support, and in turn would set aside a tenth portion of that tithe for the Aaronic priests in Jerusalem.

In the time of the Israelite Kings

LMLK seals may represent the oldest archaeological evidence of tithing. About 10 percent of the storage jars manufactured during Hezekiah's reign (circa 700 BC) were stamped (Grena, 2004, pp. 376–8). See 2 Chronicles 29–31 for a record of this early worship reformation.

The book of Nehemiah also talks about the collection of tithes to Leviim and distribution of Terumah to the priests: . People were actually appointed to collect mandatory tithes and place them in specially designated chambers which eventually came to be known as storehouses: .

Books of the (Minor) Prophets

The book of Malachi has some of the most quoted Biblical verses on tithing, .Jews, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians who tithe, understand that no man may outdo God in the act of charity. These verses talk about the supposed cause and effect of tithing. If one gives to God, they are to be blessed, where if one refuses to give they will be cursed. They also refer back to the storehouses mentioned in :

8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you.
10 Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the of hosts.
12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the of hosts.
Revised Standard Edition


The Book of Tobit (1:6–8) provides an example of all three classes of tithes practiced during the Babylonian exile:

New Testament

According to Catholics, as those who serve at the altar should live by the altar , it became necessary for provision of some kind to be made for the sacred ministers.

In the beginning this was supplied by the spontaneous offerings of the faithful. In the course of time, however, as the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to make laws which would ensure the proper and permanent support of the clergy.

Many Christians (both Catholic and Protestant) support their churches and pastors with monetary contributions of one sort or another. Frequently these monetary contributions are called tithes whether or not they actually represent ten-percent of anything. Some claim that as tithing was an ingrained Jewish custom by the time of Jesus, no specific command to tithe per se is found in the New Testament. However, this view overlooks the fact that Israel's tithes were of an agricultural nature, not financial. References to tithing in the New Testament can be found in Matthew, Luke, and the book of Hebrews.

For Catholics, the payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law, and early writers speak of it as a divine ordinance and an obligation of conscience, rather than any direct command by Jesus Christ.

Some Protestant denominations cite as support for tithing.
Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law — judgement, mercy, honesty — you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.
(Albright & Mann, Matthew, Anchor Bible, Vol. 26 (1971))


and its parallel Luke 11:42
Woe to you, Pharisees! You tithe mint and rue and every edible herb but disregard justice and the love of God. These were rather the things one should practice, without neglecting the others.
(Fitzmyer, Luke, Anchor Bible, Vol. l, 28A (1985))


Because of Jesus' specific mention of the tithe in this passage, those who support the tithe believe that he gave his endorsement to the practice of tithing in general. Some scholars disagree, however, pointing out that Jesus was simply obeying Mosaic law as an obedient Jew and telling Pharisees they ought to have tithed as they claimed they were living under that law.

The final mention of tithing in the New Testament is . This refers back to the tithe Abram paid to Melchizedek. This passage, confirms that Abraham did indeed pay his tithe to Melchizedek.

Most New Testament discussion promotes giving and does not mention tithing. talks about giving cheerfully; encourages giving what you can afford; discusses giving weekly (although this is a saved amount for Jerusalem); exhorts supporting the financial needs of Christian workers; promotes feeding the hungry wherever they may be; and states that pure religion is to help widows and orphans.

Tithing in the Middle Ages

Farmers had to offer a tenth of their harvest, while craftsmen had to offer a tenth of their production.

In Europe, special barns were built in villages order to store the tithe (Tithe Barn, in German Zehntscheunen). These were often the largest building in the village after the church. The priest or the collector (decimator) collected the tithe, though usually tithers delivered their tithe to a collection point themselves. Villages or homesteads were documented as owing tithe. A requirement to tithe was usually acquired by purchase, donation to the church, or when the settlement was founded.

The Ebstorf Abbey in the Lüneburger Heathlands, for example, was owed tithe from over 60 villages.

In the Middle Ages the tithe from the Old Testament was expanded, through a differentiation between a Great Tithe and a Little Tithe.

  • The Great Tithe was analogous to the tithe in the Bible where one had to tithe on grain and large farm animals.
  • The Little Tithe added fruits of the field: kitchen herbs, fruit, vegetables and small farm animals. Exactly what was tithable varied from place to place.


Other tithes appeared that varied from location to location:

  • Wine tithe (also called the wet tithe) upon wine cellars
  • Hay tithe upon harvest hay
  • Wood tithe upon cut wood
  • Meat or blood tithe upon slaughtered animals or animal products such as eggs and milk
  • Cleared-land tithe upon land that has been newly cleared for farming


After the Reformation the tithe was increasingly taken over from the church by the state. In countries such as Germany and Switzerland, this remained the case until the 19th century, when the tithe was abolished. In England, church tithes remained until the 19th century and in some cases to this day voluntary tithes are paid by the devout. In some cases the abolishment of the tithe was accompanied by a one-time tax upon the farmers. This led many farmers into debt.

Christian practice today

In recent years, tithing has been taught in Christian circles as a form of "stewardship" that God requires of Christians. The primary argument is that God has never formally "abolished" the tithe, and thus Christians should pay the tithe (usually calculated at 10 percent of all gross income from all sources), although at the Council of Jerusalem the Apostles did not include it in the letter to the Gentile believers ( ). The tithe is usually given to the local congregation, though some teach that a part of the tithe can go to other Christian ministries, so long as total giving is at least 10 percent. Many conservative Christians make statements that strongly imply that God will ensure that those who tithe receive raises or other material blessings that will at least make up for the amount of money they donate to the Church, and showcase the testimonies of church members who received raises at work, rebates on purchases, or other evidence of what they see as God's provision - these Christians stop short of overtly promising that their flocks will receive these same blessings if they tithe, however. Some holding to prosperity theology doctrines go even further, teaching that God will bless those who tithe and curse those who do not. When Christians who tithe lose their jobs or suffer financial setbacks, advocates of tithing often blame their misfortune on lack of faith, un-confessed sin, or other moral failures on the part of the financially-challenged individuals.

Some scholars cite that since the account of Abram giving tithe to the high priest occurred before the law was given to Moses, the tithe does not fit into Mosaic Law and therefore is relevant today.

Opponents of tithing argue that the only Biblical references to the tithe occurred (or referenced events that occurred) during the period of Mosaic Law, applicable only to Jews. They further argue that Jesus taught He came to "fulfill" the Law, which they believe occurred at His crucifixion, and therefore Christians are no longer obligated to pay a minimum amount, but should give only as God specifically directs them to do (which may be more or less than 10 percent) 2 Corinthians 8 & 9. Further, opponents hold that the "blessing/cursing" teachings used in prosperity theology would result in God being able to be "bribed" or acting as an "extortionist". Perhaps the greatest argument against tithing in the New Testament scriptures is one of omission: nowhere in the New Testament is tithing commanded, urged, or suggested. If it were important during the Church age, why is it not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament? Christians throughout the centuries have always relied upon the New Testament scriptures to defend against heresies. Opponents of tithing insist they do it now here as well.

Proponents argue that one cannot throw out the Law in the name of "fulfillment" because that also would cause the argument that Christians are no longer obligated to live a holy lifestyle according to the ten commandments, which scholars agree is not the intention of Jesus' teachings that He came to "fulfill" the Law.

One aspect of Old Testament tithing that advocates neglect is the fact that tithing did not apply to a workman's earnings, but applied to the agricultural crops grown on a farmer's land - this means that tithing was done from the profit a land-owner received from his assets. There are no recorded instances in the Bible of a workman "tithing" from wages that he received for his labor. Since the vast majority of modern workers make a living by selling their labor to an employer rather than by earning profits off of a material asset like a farm, it's debatable whether the practice of "tithing" would apply to a modern worker even if tithing is still part of the New Covenant.

Due to the fact that the New Testament explicitly directs Christians to give voluntarily as each person has determined in their hearts (2 Corinthians 9:7) and condemns those who make a show of their donations to organized religion (Mark 12:41-44, Matt. 6:3), the arguments for tithing as a Biblical practice seem to violate the basic principles of Biblical interpretation used by most conservative Protestants. These Christians usually stress the plain meaning of the text, and regard the New Testament above the Old Testament as the authoritative word of God. One reason why the practice is so vigorously promoted by conservative Protestant leaders, aside from the financial benefits of tithing for their institutions, may be that people who tithe or make other large sacrifices for the Church gain a positive reputation for their devotion. Christians may also feel that they've earned God's favor through their sacrifice. Opponents of tithing note that the Bible explicitly condemns making public sacrifices as a means of enhancing one's reputation (Matt. 6:3), so the public testimonies of tithing advocates actually run the risk of being sin.

Stretton Smith created a program called 4T—Tithing of Time, Talent, and Treasure, which is used in many Unity Churches.

Tithing is commonly taught in conservative Protestant denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention, Free Methodists, Baptist General Conference, Assemblies of God, and most Pentecostal groups and independent fundamentalists, as well as among Mormon groups like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the related Community of Christ denomination. Despite the emphasis placed on tithing by the leaders of these and other denominations, the practice is seldom observed by the laity. According to surveys conducted in 2002 by the Barna Group, only three percent of American adults donated 10 percent or more of their income to churches. Only six percent of those who self-identified as born-again Christians tithed. Barna noted the crumbling American economy following the 9-11 attacks as a cause for the waning practice. While more recent figures on the percentage of Americans who tithe are not available, the financial pressures on average Americans have become worse since Barna's initial study, suggesting that tithing has continued to decline as a practice among American Christians.

Islam

Zakat ( , sometimes "Zakāt") or "alms giving", one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is the giving of a small percentage of one's income to charity. It serves principally as the welfare contribution to poor and deprived Muslims, although others may have a rightful share. It is the duty of an Islamic state not just to collect zakat but to distribute it fairly as well.

Muslims fulfill this religious obligation by giving a fixed percentage of their surplus wealth. Zakat has been paired with such a high sense of righteousness that it is often placed on the same level of importance as offering Salat.Zysow, A. "Zakāt (a.)." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2009. Brill Online. Augustana. 27 April 2009 /www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM-1377> Muslims see this process also as a way of purifying themselves from their greed and selfishness and also safeguarding future business. In addition, Zakat purifies the person who receives it because it saves him from the humiliation of begging and prevents him from envying the rich. Because it holds such a high level of importance the "punishment" for not paying when able is very severe. In the 2nd edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam it states, "...the prayers of those who do not pay zakat will not be accepted".. This is due to the fact that without Zakat a tremendous hardship is placed on the poor which otherwise would not be there. Besides the fear of their prayers not getting heard, those who are able should be practicing this third pillar of Islam because the Koran states that this is what believers should do. Chapter 9 verse 11 states, "if they repent, establish regular prayers and pay zakah, they are your brethren of faith", and in chapter 2 verse 155, "be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss on goods, lives, and fruits. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere."

Sikhism

In Sikhism, dasvand ( ) literally means a tenth part and refers the act of donating ten percent of ones harvest, both financial and in the form of time and service such as seva to the Gurdwara and anywhere else. It falls into Guru Nanak Dev's concept of kirat karo. This was done during the time of Guru Arjan Dev and many Sikhs still do it up to this day. The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanak’s own line: “ghali khai kichhu hathhu dei, Nanak rahu pachhanahi sei—He alone, O Nanak, knoweth the way who eats out of what he earneth by his honest labour and yet shareth part of it with others” (GG, 1245). The idea of sharing and giving was nourished by the institutions of sangat (holy assembly) and langar (community kitchen) the Guru had established.

In the time of Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, a formal structure for channelizing Sikh religious giving was evolved. He set up 22 manjis or districts in different parts of the country. Each of these "manji's" was placed under the charge of a pious Sikh (both male and female) who, besides preaching Guru Nanak’s word, looked after the sangats within his/her jurisdiction and transmitted the disciple’s offerings to the Guru. As the digging of the sacred pool at Amritsarmarker, and the erection in the middle of it of the shrine, Harimander, began under Guru Ram Das resulting in a large amount of expenditure, the Sikhs were encouraged to set aside a minimum of ten per cent (dasvandh) of their income for the common cause and the concept of Guru Ki Golak "Guru's treasury" was coined. Masands, i.e. ministers and the tithe-collectors, were appointed to collect "kar bhet" (sewa offerings) and dasvandh from the Sikhs in the area they were assigned to, and pass these on to the Guru.

The custom of dasvandh is found in documents called rahitnamas, manuals of Sikh conduct, written during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh or soon after. For example, Bhai Nand Lal’s Tankhahnama records these words of Gobind Singh: “Hear ye Nand Lal, one who does not give dasvandh and, telling lies, misappropriates it, is not at all to be trusted.” The tradition has been kept alive by chosen Sikhs who to this day scrupulously fulfil this injunction. The institution itself serves as a means for the individual to practice personal piety as well as to participate in the ongoing history of the community, the Guru Panth ("Guru's path").

Governmental collection of religious offerings and taxes

Austria

In Austriamarker a colloquially called church tax (Kirchensteuer, officially called Kirchenbeitrag, i.e. church contribution) has to be paid by members of the Catholic and Protestant Church. It is levied by the churches themselves and not by the government. The obligation to pay church tax can just be evaded by an official declaration to cease church membership. The tax is calculated on the basis of personal income. It amounts to about 1.1% (Catholic church) and 1.5% (Protestant church).

Denmark

All members of the Church of Denmark pay a church tax, which varies between municipalities. The tax is generally around 1% of the taxable income.

England

The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855. The Saladin tithe was a royal tax, but assessed using ecclesiastical boundaries, in 1188. Tithes were given legal force by the Statute of Westminster of 1285. Adam Smith criticized the system in The Wealth of Nations (1776), arguing that a fixed rent would encourage peasants to farm more efficiently. The Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the transfer of many tithe rights from the Church to secular landowners, and then in the 1530s to the Crown. The system ended with the Tithe Commutation Act 1836, which replaced tithes with a rent charge decided by a Tithe Commission. The records of land ownership, or Tithe Files, made by the Commission are now a valuable resource for historians.

At first this commutation reduced problems to the ultimate payers by folding tithes in with rents (however it could cause transitional money supply problems by raising the transaction demand for money). Later the decline of large landowners led tenants to become freehold and again have to pay directly; this also led to renewed objections of principle by non-Anglicans.

The rent charges paid to landowners were converted by the Tithe Commutation Act to annuities paid to the state through the Tithe Redemption Commission. The payments were transferred in 1960 to the Board of Inland Revenue, and finally terminated by the Finance Act 1977.

Finland

Members of state churches pay a church tax of between 1% and 2.25% of income, depending on the municipality. Church taxes are integrated into the common national taxation system.

France

In Francemarker, the tithes—called "la dîme" -- were a land tax. Originally a voluntary tax, in 1585 the "dîme" became mandatory. In principle, unlike the taille, the "dîme" was levied on both noble and non-noble lands. The dîme was divided into a number of types, including the "grosses dîmes" (grains, wine, hay), "menues" or "vertes dîmes" (vegetables, poultry), "dîmes de charnage" (veal, lamb, pork). Although the term "dîme" comes from the Latin decima [pars] ("one tenth", same origin for U.S. coin dime), the "dîme" rarely reached this percentage and (on the whole) it was closer to 1/13th of the agricultural production.

The "dîme" was originally meant to support the local parish, but by the 16th century many "dîmes" went directly to distant abbeys, monasteries, and bishops, leaving the local parish impoverished, and this contributed to general resentment. In the Middle Ages, some monasteries also offered the "dîme" in homage to local lords in exchange for their protection (see Feudalism) (these are called "dîmes inféodées"), but this practice was forbidden by the Lateran Council of 1179.

All religious taxes were constitutionally abolished in 1790, in the wake of the French revolution.

Germany

Germanymarker levies a church tax, on all persons declaring themselves to be Christians, of roughly 8-9% of the income tax, which is effectively (very much depending on the social and financial situation) typically between 0.2% and 1.5% of the total income. The proceeds are shared amongst Catholic, Lutheran, and other Protestant Churches. In 1933 Hitler had the entry "church tax" added to the official tax card, which meant that the tax could now be deducted by the employer like any of the other taxes.

Some believe that the church taxation system was established or started through the Concordat of 1933 signed between the Holy See and the Third Reich. This is a simple misunderstanding or misrepresentation of §13 of the Appendix (The Supplementary Protocol) of the Concordat (Schlußprotokoll, §13). The article reads: „Es besteht Einverständnis darüber, daß das Recht der Kirche, Steuern zu erheben, gewährleistet bleibt.“, (refer to External Links). In English, this translates to: It is understood that the Church retains the right to levy Church taxes, (refer to External Links). Notice that §13 states that the Church "retains the right" or, in German, "gewährleistet bleibt". The church tax (Kirchensteuer) actually traces its roots back as far as the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803. Today its legal basis is §140 of the Grundgesetz (the German "constitution") in connection with article 137 of the Weimar constitution.

Church tax (Kirchensteuer) is compulsory in Germany for those confessing members of a particular religious group. It is deducted at the PAYE level. The duty to pay this tax theoretically starts on the day one is christened. Anyone who wants to stop paying it has to declare in writing, at their local court of law (Amtsgericht) or registry office, that they are leaving the Church. They are then crossed off the Church registers and can no longer receive the sacraments.

Greece

There has never been a church tax or mandatory tithe on Greek citizens. The state pays the salaries of the clergy of the established Church of Greece, in return for use of real estate, mainly forestry, owned by the church. The remainder of church income comes from voluntary, tax-deductible donations from the faithful. These are handled by each diocese independently.

Ireland

Tithes were introduced after the Norman conquest of 1169-1172, and were specified in the papal bull Laudabiliter as a duty to: ...pay yearly from every house the pension of one penny to St Peter, and to keep and preserve the rights of the churches in that land whole and inviolate. However, collection outside the Norman area of control was sporadic.

From the Reformation in the 1500s, most Irish people chose to remain Roman Catholic and had by now to pay tithes valued at about 10% of an area's agricultural produce, to maintain and fund the established state church, the Anglican Church of Ireland, to which only a small minority of the population converted. Irish Presbyterian and other minorities like the Quakers and Jews were in the same situation.

The collection of tithes was violently resisted in the period 1831-36, known as the Tithe War. Thereafter, tithes were reduced and added to rents with the passing of the Tithe Commutation Act in 1836. With the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869, tithes were abolished.

Italy (Eight per Thousand)

Originally the Italian government of Benito Mussolini, under the Lateran treaties of 1929 with the Holy See, paid a monthly salary to Catholic clergymen. This salary was called the congrua. The eight per thousand law was created as a result of an agreement, in 1984, between the Italian Republic and the Holy See.

Under this law Italian taxpayers are able to declare that 0.8% ('eight per thousand') of their taxes go to a religious confession or, alternatively, to a social assistance program run by the Italian State. This declaration is made on the IRPEF form. People are not required to declare a recipient; in that case the law stipulates that this undeclared amount be distributed among the normal recipients of such taxes in proportion to what they have already received from explicit declarations. Only the Catholic Church and the Italian State have agreed to take this undeclared portion of the tax.

The last official statement of Italian Ministry of Finance made in respect of the year 2000 singles out seven beneficiaries: the Italian State, the Catholic Church, the Waldenses, the Jewish Communities, the Lutherans, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Assemblies of God in Italymarker.

The tax was divided up as follows:
  • 87.17% Catholic Church
  • 10.35% Italian State
  • 1.21% Waldenses
  • 0.46% Jewish Communities
  • 0.32% Lutherans
  • 0.28% Adventists of the Seventh Day
  • 0.21% Assemblies of God in Italy


In 2000, the Catholic Church raised almost a billion euros, while the Italian State received about 100 million euros.

Scotland

In Scotland teinds were the tenths of certain produce of the land appropriated to the maintenance of the Church and clergy. At the Reformation most of the Church property was acquired by the Crown, nobles and landowners. In 1567 the Privy Council of Scotland provided that a third of the revenues of lands should be applied to paying the clergy of the reformed Church of Scotlandmarker. In 1925 the system was recast by statute and provision was made for the standardisation of stipends at a fixed value in money. The Court of Sessionmarker acted as the Teind Court. Teinds were finally abolished by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. Act 2000.

Spain and Latin America

Both the tithe (diezmo), a tax of 10% on all agricultural production, and "first fruits" (primicias), an additional harvest tax, were collected in Spainmarker throughout the medieval and early modern periods for the support of local Catholic parishes. The tithe crossed the Atlantic with the Spanish Empire; however, the Indians who made up the vast majority of the population in colonial Spanish America were exempted from paying tithes on native crops such as corn and potatoes that they raised for their own susistence. After some debate, Indians in colonial Spanish America were forced to pay tithes on their production of European agricultural products, including wheat, silk, cows, pigs, and sheep. The tithe was abolished in several Latin American countries, including Mexicomarker, soon after independence from Spain (which started in 1810); others, including Argentinamarker and Perumarker still collect tithes today for the support of the Catholic Church. The tithe was abolished in Spain itself in 1841.

Sweden

Until the year 2000, Sweden had a mandatory church tax to be paid if one did belong to the Church of Sweden which had been funneling about $500 million annually to the church. Because of change in legislation, the tax was withdrawn in year 2000. However, the Swedish government has agreed to continue collecting from individual taxpayers the annual payment that has always gone to the church. But now the tax will be an optional checkoff box on the tax return. The government will allocate the money collected to Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths as well as the Lutherans, with each taxpayer directing where his or her taxes should go.

Switzerland

There is no official state church in Switzerlandmarker; however, all the 26 cantons (states) financially support at least one of the three traditional denominations--Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, or Protestant--with funds collected through taxation. Each canton has its own regulations regarding the relationship between church and state. In some cantons, the church tax (up to 2.3%) is voluntary but in others an individual who chooses not to contribute to church tax may formally have to leave the church. In some cantons private companies are unable to avoid payment of the church tax.

United States

The United States has never collected a church tax or mandatory tithe on its citizens. Such a tax is likely prohibited by the First Amendment (specifically the Establishment Clause) to the US Constitution. The United States and its governmental subdivisions also exempt most churches from payment of income tax (under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code and similar state statutes, which also allows donors to claim the donations as an income tax itemized deduction). Also, churches may be permitted exemption from other state and local taxes such as sales and property taxes, either in whole or in part. However, churches are required to withhold Federal and state income tax from their employees along with the employee's share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay the employer's share of the latter two taxes, unless the employee is an ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister.

Religious organizations

Actual collection procedures vary from church to church, from the common, strictly voluntary practice of "passing the plate" in Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, to formal, church-mediated tithing in some conservative Protestant churches (as well as LDS Church), to membership fees as practiced in many Jewish congregations. There is no government involvement in church collections (though some contributions are considered tax-exempt as charity donations), but because of less-strict income and tax reporting requirements for religious groups, some churches have been placed under legal and media scrutiny for their spending habits.

Juridical sense

The non-economic, juridical sense of "tithing" is in reference to the Anglo-Norman practice of dividing the population into groups of ten men who were responsible for policing each other; if one broke the law, the other nine were responsible for chasing him down, or would face legal punishment themselves. In his 1595 essay A View of the Present State of Ireland, Edmund Spenser, best noted for his colossal poem The Faerie Queen recommended that the Anglo-Norman practice of tithing be revived and implemented in the rebellious territories of Irelandmarker. The Anglo-Norman practice of tithing was also linked to the evolution of the juridical concept of murder; the penalties for killing a Norman were four times as great as the penalties for killing anyone else. It was presumed that any person murdered should be considered as if he were Norman, unless it could be proven otherwise. The higher communal payment of blood money (wergild) for killing a Norman bore the special designation murdrum, from which the modern English word "murder" is derived.

See also



Notes

References

  • Albright, W. F. and Mann, C. S. Matthew, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 26. Garden City, New York, 1971.
  • The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Vol. 4 "E." Chicago, 1958.
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Gospel According to Luke, X-XXIV, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 28A. New York, 1985.
  • Speiser, E. A. Genesis, The Anchor Bible, Vol.1. Garden City, New York, 1964.
  • Kelly, Russell Earl, "Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian's Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine," IUniverse, 2001.


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