In a recent conference in Thessaloniki regarding the relationship of the Left with the Church, SYRIZA MP Tasos Kourakis defended the separation of Church and State, by suggesting taxing citizens who define themselves as Christians, in order to fund the Church.

Mr. Kourakis stated that a separation of Church and State entails that the State cannot pay the wages of priests, regardless of faith or dogma. Should that be too difficult, Mr. Kourakis suggested that a special tax be created for all citizens defining themselves as Orthodox Christians, in order to fund the Church. Mr. Kourakis further explained that similar schemes are in place in other European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Ireland).

New Democracy reacted to Mr. Kourakis’ position, issuing a press statement in response. In it, ND claims that SYRIZA is planning to impose a new tax, since Orthodox Christians account for over 90% of the population. ND also suggests that the taxation based on faith goes against democratic values and the constitution. The Independent Greeks party also issued a statement, expressing their amazement at “Mr. Kourakis suggesting taxing our Greek Orthodox faith”, claiming that Mr. Kourakis “has gone way too far”.

Mr. Kourakis replied to the accusations, stressing that his proposal involves changing the collection method for money that citizens already pay towards the Church through taxation. The SYRIZA MP also notes that, despite ND fears, there are ways to safeguard personal data.