In Germany we have to pay a 'church tax'.
Unless that is you declare quite firmly to whichever officious person at the council office it is who is in charge of assessing your tax level that you are a NON BELIEVER.
We'd been warned before we went to this meeting and were quite happy to sit there and tick the box marked;
'go straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect £200'
If you're a Catholic this non pament of church tax has further repercussions, should you decide in times of hardship that you can no longer afford to keep on paying for the upkeep of the church and you change your allegiance to that of 'non believer' then you are warned that this does mean that should you be taken seriously ill and be about to die then there will be no last rites for you...no last minute confessions and no burial in sacred ground...
Like I said - straight to hell!
You can of course opt back in if you feel really sick and think you should get your visa for the pearly gates renewed (I hear St Peter's a stickler for correct paprerwork, likes to have all the t's crossed and i's dotted - he's probably German) it's maybe something like having one of those tickets for a theme park that allows you to queue jump - you have to pay extra for that priviledge obviously, although whether the church/state backdates your church tax when you rejoin is not something I know (I don't know many unrelapsed godbotherers).
In school they teach religion on a divisional basis - catholic or protestant (they don't take into account any other religions here, but maybe that's just the area I live in, which is like a Mother's Pride loaf - white, white, white. There may be up to 10 different nationalities in Jas's school but they're all European, and apart from the Italians, all northern european)
In the first week of school Jas should have gone into the protestant class (for some reason they don't have 'church of england'*...curious eh?) but her teacher asked if it was possible for Jas to go into the catholic class as the protestant class was a bit full (I can see protestant being the easier option, religionwise, no guilt, no confession - kind of religionlite)
I had no problem with this, feeling that Jas was strong willed enough to resist the brain washing, the only tricky spots were when friends of hers (proper catholics) started doing the extra classes and courses for their first communion, she felt as though she was missing out on something and I got asked the question by the parents as to why Jas wasn't doing first communion.
This whole thing seems to have come full circle as Jas woke me up between 12 and 1 this morning (a lovely time...not) to tell me that she didn't want to go to church today, at that time of the day, roused from a deep sleep I'll agree to pretty much anything as long as I'm allowed to return to my somnolent state.
Simon this morning got all parental, and asked me why she didn't want to go - it wasn't because there was some creepy priest or something (imagine that, a creepy catholic priest, never heard of one, have you?) I had to confess that I had no idea why (like I was going to go into full Stasi interrogation mode at that time of night, silly man) anyway, it turns out that she finds it boring (what a surprise) and doesn't like the people...no drama afterall!
Ben meanwhile opted out from religion in 4th class and when he moved up to gymnasium continued this, other kids have caught on to this trick which gives you at least 1 free lesson per week when you can either go home early or get your homework done, consequently the numbers of kids doing the religion lessons is dropping significantly.
What out, atheism is contagious!!
*a story I should have told you before; I had the opportunity last week (at bookgroup) to educate a Yank on Henry VIII, his wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) and the beginnings of the church of england - it was great fun, someone who has never studied history, and whose history knowledge comes from fictional accounts and the great god Wiki, telling her version...via a Tempranillo filter.