As an American, I’m a little shameful of the fact that for a few brief moments, I actually entertained the idea that perhaps socialism wasn’t such a bad thing. Germans like it. They all have health care and, generally speaking, feel cared for by their government. Just like Americans rarely question democracy, Germans don’t really seem to question socialism so I thought, “Maybe it’s not so bad.”
But then I registered with the county so they’d know I’m living here, why I’m here, and how long I intended to stay, and even though I was mentally prepared for what came next, when she finally asked, “Do you have a religion?” it shook me to my very core.
“Do you have a religion?”
I wanted to scream at her and say, “YES, AND IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”
But according to socialism, it’s very much her business. Because, you see, if you’re a member of the church in Germany, you have to pay a church tax. And I’m not talking about the Biblical principle of willingly giving 10% of your income to the church as a way of saying, “God, all I have is yours and I give this small amount back to you as a way of showing how much I trust you to continue to provide for me.” Nope. I’m talking about your company deducting your paycheck every month, calling it a “church tax” and giving the money directly to the church without you having any say in the matter.
I looked at my husband and said, “She just wants to know because if I say I’m a member of the church they want to take my money, right?” He said, “Exactly.” And because this American firmly and passionately believes in the separation of Church and State, I looked her in the eyes and said, “No. I don’t have a religion.” And though I still know I did the right thing, those words stung my heart and almost took my breath away. It’s no wonder that in churches all across America we hear, “It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ.” but in Germany religion seems to be nothing more than an affiliation with the cold walls of an old, gothic building that gives you the right to have your wedding and funeral presided over by a priest.
A few weeks later my husband, who was a member of the Catholic church, received a letter in the mail indicating that in Germany, it’s basically “all or nothing” when it comes to your household being a member of the church. And since he was a member and I wasn’t, he needed to pay extra cover my portion of the church dues. We promptly marched our hineys to the appropriate office and he renounced his membership to the church so that neither of us would any longer be forced to pay taxes to the major corporation that has cleverly disguised itself as The Church.
Socialism is the lie that says, “you’re free” when you’re really so bound by the government that you can’t leave your house without them knowing. It doesn’t promote the separation of Church and State or the separation of basically anything and State for that matter.
Any lingering warm feelings I may have had left in my heart for socialism were quickly extinguished when I received a bill in the mail two days ago for the radio.
Yeah. You read that right… For the radio.
Many radio stations in Germany are owned by the government. The only perk is the lack of paid advertisements interrupting my music listening time, but now that I know what I know… I’d gladly listen to any radio commercial from now on. Because I live here and own a car, I have the ability to listen to those government radio stations and must therefore pay for that privilege. I was, understandably, floored by this. As it turns out, the law is that you now only have one fee per household and since my husband already pays a monthly fee of around 18€ ($23.27), I don’t have to pay the bill.
***Edit*** While my bill only specifically addressed the need for me to pay for the radio stations, a kind reader asked me to make it clear that my husband’s fee of 18€ per month isn’t solely for the use of the radio. It is also for the privilege of the ability to watch the few government-owned TV channels that we never watch because, according to my husband, “they’re trash.” However, according to my husband, most Germans don’t blindly pay this without a thought. They hate it and they want those channels gone because they don’t like the idea of it being forced on them.
But again I say, “Socialism is the lie that says, ‘You’re free.'” And many people buy into this lie because the government makes them just comfortable enough that they never question it. And really, I think that’s the point of socialism… to enslave the people without their knowledge… to pull the wool over their eyes and turn them into blind and ignorant (but happy) sheep. Well, this American isn’t buying it anymore. Now I fully understand the dangers of another Hitler in the future… because this blind-following has gone on for so long that a dynamic speaker and ruler who had started out by creating great things such as the Autobahn could destroy half the country before the wool was pulled back even a little.