Religion: Cutting the Church's Cut

West Germans beset by inflation have found a novel remedy. At the rate of about 4,800 a week, they are going down to their courthouses to renounce Christianity. They need only endure some red tape, pay a modest fee and in effect excommunicate themselves to escape a surcharge of up to 10% on the income taxes of church members.

Most West European nations have given religion some help since the Middle Ages, when a tenth of a farmer's produce was handed over to the church. But in modern times, West Germany's generosity seems almost spectacular. The Weimar constitution fixed the right of...

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