Over Easter weekend, a “holy flame” traveled from Israel to Greece as part of an Orthodox Christian ceremony.
And for some reason, the Greek government paid for it all. While church/state separation isn’t part of the law there, the Atheist Union of Greece, a group of about a thousand members, wants to know exactly how much money was spent promoting faith:
Citing the ongoing economic woes of the country, the union wrote in the letter: “In a time when taxpayers Greeks are experiencing cuts in wages and pensions, a severe taxation, unemployment and compression of real income, we consider unthinkable that the Greek State and therefore the Greek taxpayers give even one euro for the transfer of the supposed ‘Holy Light’.”
The Union’s president, Fotis Fragopoulos, told Newsweek that his group are campaigning for the separation of church and state in a country that he says is close to being “a theocracy”.
“What we did recently was to issue a note to the ministries of foreign affairs and finance and to ask if they can estimate the costs of all this process and inform the citizens that are being taxed and who therefore pay for this,” he says.
It’s a decent approach, though they haven’t received any response yet. Maybe if the public knew how much money was wasted on a religious ceremony that ought to be funded by the churches themselves, there would be more pressure on the government to keep a distance from religion and focus on more pressing matters. It’s not like Greece has a surplus of funding they can spend however they’d like right now.