There’s been a major kerfuffle (or however you spell that word) in Finland these past few weeks concerning a televised debate about the right of gay people to get married inside the country’s Lutheran Church. If you didn’t know it, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the de facto religious institution for Finns (just like it says on the label) and one which is ‘married’ to the state. What this means in effect is that all those who belong to church and who pay taxes, also pay a small but significant portion of their taxes to the church, thus making it a rather wealthy institution.
The televised debate included one rather well-known Christian Democrat whose forthright and politically charged opinions about the parameters of a church wedding including Larry and Eve but not Larry and Steve stirred up a veritable pink hornet’s nest. In the space of a few days, something like 20 000 people, presumably gay or at least sympathetic to the rights of gay people to be legally wed in the church resigned their ‘subscription’ using a convenient web-based service.
Thus at the insistent and angry click of thousands of mouses (mice?), the Lutheran Church has haemorrhaged revenues in excess of half a million euros – not a small sum of money in anybody’s cheque book. The fact is that in these hard and secular times, many people in Finland have voluntarily resigned from the church irrespective of their feelings about gay rights. No doubt many simply resent the over-familiar hand in their pocket every month allied to a prevailing belief in technology over God and his paid up members on earth.
I’m sure there are many Lutheran priests sympathetic to the idea of gay marriage but even more sympathetic to a steady stream of revenue to upkeep their salaries and places of business. In the end, it’s more about the money than the rights of gays to use services they regularly pay into. Question is, when will the debate open out larger to include the bigger issue of a divorce between the Church and the State? I’m sure that this would help matters along.
Anybody who wants to belong to the church after that, simply pays their index-linked yearly subscription and gets a chipped loyalty smart card which they swipe through a reader when they go to church gaining ‘air miles’ with that institution for their devoutness (free trip to Lourdes with every 100 000 points, for example or discounts at affiliated flower shops and funeral homes).
And for all those who have resigned or no longer wish to renew their subscription, be they gays, satanists or other misfits, there can be a security alarm similar to the ones they have in shops (only in reverse) which prevents them from getting in and worse still, getting married.