In Europe, church taxes are voluntary. People pay them anyway.

But for how long?

I would love to see Americans’ reaction if a US politician proposed a law requiring most citizens to pay a tax for the upkeep of churches (albeit with the right to opt out). Surely the vast majority would reject the idea as blatant theocracy, even the first move toward a Republic of Gilead.

Yet that is the prevailing system in several countries in Europe, including Scandinavian lands that we normally think of as highly secular. And that system is surprisingly popular.

The European system is a vestige of an older world of established churches that once exercised great control and influence. Long after churches ceased to exercise any kind of monopoly, millions of believers continued to affirm their membership in a church of one denomination or another, and the state cooperated by collecting the taxes associated with membership.