German Protestant gathering wants an end to global tax evasion

By Stephen Brown
May 1, 2013

Germany's biggest Protestant gathering has made a strong appeal for an end to international tax evasion and speculation on foodstuffs.

"We need decisive international action to ensure that everyone meets their tax obligations," Professor Gerhard Robbers told journalists on the opening day of the 1-5 May event in Hamburg, called the German Protestant Kirchentag (church congress).

The theme of the five-day event is “As much as you need” (Exodus 16.18) and focuses on the need for a sustainable economy and society.

More than 115'000 people are in Hamburg for Kirchentag, which takes place every two years. Altogether there are more than 2,500 individual events in Hamburg, including debates on issues of church and society, concerts and worship.

Robbers, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Trier, said the Kirchentag needed to face the challenges posed by controversial banking deals and tax havens.

"It is unacceptable that the poorest are starving because of speculation on foodstuffs," he said.

Prominent speakers at this year's Kirchentag include German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel. Church of England Bishop Nick Baines will preach at the closing worship.

The Kirchentag was founded after in 1949 by Protestants who had been active in the Confessing Church, which opposed Nazi incursions into church life under Hitler. The Kirchentag founders wanted to help rebuild a culture of democratic political debate in Germany after the Second World War.

In its 65 year history, the Kirchentag has often taken a prominent position on controversial issues. The 1981 Kirchentag, also in Hamburg, was the focus for the peace movement in West Germany in opposing the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe.

Web: http://www.kirchentag.de/en/en.html

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© Stephen Brown is an experienced ecumenical and current affairs journalist. He is an Ekklesia associate, and reporting directly from the Kirchentag for us.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.