At the end of the week I got a lot of church tax and I started wondering why I belong to a church

Coincidence in the tax return seemed like a concrete sign: this is how much my Christianity costs, and this is the payment date, writes Valtteri Parikka in his column.

Valtteri Parikka

Pre-filled the tax return unexpectedly revealed an almost biblical sign.

The first installment of the mats as a whole is pretty much the same as my church tax. The loose coincidence seemed like a concrete sign: this is how much my Christianity costs, and this is the date of payment. Usually the church tax is hidden from the unnoticed and I haven’t had to think about it.

If there is any higher power, then this time it made me think why I actually belong to the church, even though I never go there.

In Finland has been in the habit of belonging to the church. It is more common to belong than not to belong.

At the beginning of 2020, as many as 68.6 percent of Finns belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. That’s a huge number, over 3.5 million people.

Belonging to the church is still on a steep downhill slope. As late as the 1980s, more than 90 percent of Finns belonged to the Lutheran Church.

There are an ever-increasing number of us who regularly pay our church tax but hardly exercise our faith at all.

The church investigated the change related to the religiosity of Finns in a large number last year in its survey, which reviewed the Church’s four-year period 2016–2019. Research shows that people’s values, thinking, and religious identity are now changing at an extraordinary rate.

Changes in values ​​are partly reflected in the Church’s position in society. The church does not seem to keep up with changes in values. The world changes.

The Church’s research report analyzes the roots, coping with the things that have changed in the religious relationship of Finns.

In particular, the report emphasizes that the roles of individuality and equality are emphasized in the Finnish world of values. For example, attitudes towards gender equality are a factor that either brings Finns closer or further apart in relation to religious identity.

One could say that the church faces a kind of paradox: on the one hand, it is hoped that the church will be renewed, and on the other hand, it is the ancient traditions of Christianity that are the unifying force.

Freedom of the individual its importance in society has been enormously strengthened. It is reflected, for example, in how many newborns are included as members of the Church. Parents now think that the child should decide in due course whether or not to join the church.

Back in the early 2000s, many religious ordinances, such as baptism, were a matter of course in Finnish families. In 2019, however, only two of the five children born in the Diocese of Helsinki were baptized.

The study also shows that, for example, teaching evening prayer, attending Sunday school, attending a Christmas church, and talking about religion in a childhood home have decreased significantly. All of this inevitably means that the advance of the Christian tradition is weakening.

In addition, the report highlights that experientialism is an increasingly important part of spirituality. So that’s what people rewind to themselves.

Even if people do not attend church, they may be silent on spiritual matters, for example, when moving in nature. The ways in which faith and spirituality are exercised have taken on new forms. For example, more than a tenth of Finns regularly practice meditation.

For many, traditional church spending doesn’t feel like its own.

Reports however, by reading I will not become more mad than the pious. I still don’t understand why I and many like me belong to the church.

I decide to look for an answer the way journalists meet to look for answers. I call the experts, in this case the priests.

What makes me pay my church tax too?

“It’s terribly fun to think about this,” replies the university and race priest Leena Huovinen.

He believes that at least traditions work. For a long time, everyone in Finland had to belong to a church. It has left its mark on Finnishness.

“Traditions can also create a sense of responsibility. Let’s think, for example, that at least I can’t divorce while Grandma is still alive. ”

Something important is also in church disputes. According to Huovinen, very few can explain why baptism, church weddings or funerals feel good and right. People have “tense sides that are hard to say”.

“Some mystery of being resonates in itself.”

Yet another call. Now the phone is answered by the editor-in-chief and priest of Kirkko ja Kaupunki magazine Jaakko Heinimäki.

For him, the ideal of a Christian is not necessarily to be an active member of the Church in any way.

“There’s a lot of program in the church that doesn’t interest me. Most members of the Church do not attend church. ”

Heinimäki does not believe that belonging to the church is just a continuation of traditions. He, too, says it’s hard to put the word about it, but it’s behind the core idea of ​​the church.

“The church is the torchbearer of charity. Criticism always arises – for good reason – if the church itself acts contrary to this principle of its own. ”

Perhaps it is wisest for me to act in the future so that instead of looking for biblical signs, I focus on avoiding bumps.

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