Italy_ Concordates with Buddhists, JWs.pdf

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Italy: Concordates with Buddhists, JWs
Italy: Government Signs Concordate with
Buddhist Union, Jehovah's Witnesses
The Italian government signed on March 20, 2000 two concordates ("intese") between Italy and the
Italian Buddisth Union (UBI), and between Italy and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Italy has a system of concordates called "Intese" regulating the State's relations with a number of religious
bodies. Concordates provide inter alia for spiritual assistance in the military forces, hospitals, public
schools and jails, and legal recognition of marriages performed by a priest or minister. An important
feature is the possible entrance of the religious bodies with a concordate into the 0,8% system. This is a
peculiar Italian system where each taxpayer should devote 0,8% of his or her taxes either to a religious
body or to the national public charity system by crossing the preferred institution's case on the tax form.
Unlike in Germany, if the taxpayer fails to cross a case he or she does not keep the money, that is divided
between the different bodies according to their national percentage scores (unless they explicity declare
that they want to keep only the 0,8% of those crossing their name). For example, if one does not cross any
case and the Catholic Church case is crossed by 90% of those who crossed a case, and the Baptist Church
by 2%, 90% of 0,8% of taxes paid by the non-crosser will go to the Catholic Church, 2% of 0,8% to the
Baptist Church, and so on. The percentage of the State charity, plagued by scandals, remains minimal.
Jehovah's Witnesses would not accept their share of the non-crossers' money and would receive only the
0.8% of those explicitly designating their denomination. Most Churches advertise through TV and other
campaigns to capture the unchurched's 0,8%. Participant Churches and religions include, so far, the
Catholic Church (from 1984), Waldensians and Methodists (1984), Seventh-day Adventists (1986),
Assemblies of God (1986), the Jewish Communities (1987), Baptists (1993) and Lutherans (1993).
The concordates with the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Buddhist Union are both historically significant.
Italy will become the first country where the Jehovah's Witnesses will be supported by taxpayers' money
and will have much more than a simple "recognition", and Buddhism will be the first non-theistic religion
to sign a concordate with the Italian government.
The concordates should now be approved by the Parliament in order to become effective, and some
opposition by the anti-cult lobby is expected in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses.
See full text of the concordate with the Jehovah's Witnesses (in Italian)
Back to the CESNUR Page on Jehovah's Witnesses
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Revised last: 20-03-2000
2013-01-31 13:00
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