Every Flemish person pays €79 per year on religion via their taxes, according to calculations by Flemish parliament member Maurits Vande Reyde.
In 2018, the recognised religions in Flanders received €474,621,366 in tax money, said Vande Reyde.
The total amount of over €470 million is composed of the federal and Flemish as well as the local financial flows, that go to the religious institutions. The largest part of the budget, about €271 million, went to religion teachers. The wages and pensions of priests accounted for about €92 million.
The Flemish expenditure alone rose from €287 million in 2015 to €329 million in 2018. “It is remarkable that despite the ever-decreasing faith as well as the decrease in the number of churchgoers, the Flemish expenditure on religion continues to rise,” said Vande Reyde, reports Het Nieuwsblad.
He proposed that the government funding for religion was abolished, and that it be transferred to the religions themselves, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.
“The dioceses have enormous financial resources. Let them pay the wages of the priests and the maintenance of the churches themselves. And let us make religion classes a general subject, instead of giving each religion its own teacher,” Vande Reyde said. “This is madness,” he added.
In Belgium, six religions are officially recognised by the state: the Roman Catholic religion, the Orthodox religion, the Israeli religion, the Anglican religion, the Protestant evangelical religion and the Islamic religion.
Written by: Maïthé Chini