The country of Romania has some serious financial problems — they already received a multi-billion dollar bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2009.
Romania also has a lot of state-supported churches — approximately “10 new places of worship completed every month” — with more on the way.
You do the math.
Some residents already have and they’re not happy at all:
… questions are increasingly being asked about the funding of the new cathedral and the Orthodox Church more generally, much of which comes from the cash-strapped state.
A leading critic is the flamboyant Member of Parliament and head of the Green Party, Remus Cernea. “In Romania we have a big problem between church and state,” he says. “My view is that if the church wants to build something it’s OK until the money for the building of this church is the money of the people, of the state — public funds.”
From central government funds the church receives more than 100 million euros for priests’ salaries, and many more millions for the construction and renovation of church buildings.
Another issue is that politicians fund these churches… and the church leaders in turn promote those politicians during election season. It’s a never-ending cycle of self-inflicted damage.
There’s an upside, though: many younger residents don’t see a need for all the entanglement:
Nearly all the young people I spoke to, especially in the capital Bucharest were not regular churchgoers, and felt the money would be better spent elsewhere.
The situation in Romania is eerily similar to the situation in Stafford, Texas where too many churches have hurt the city economically (albeit for very different reasons).
Churches can thrive on their own, with the tithes and donations of their members; they don’t need the government giving them handouts, even in countries where church/state separation isn’t practiced.
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