TALLINN – Religious associations across Estonia stand to get two million euros for the continuation of activities with a social impact and easing the economic difficulties of congregations, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
Social support for religious associations, which is distributed via nationwide congregations, amounts to 2 million euros, spokespeople for the ministry said.
The support is provided for the alleviation of economic difficulties caused by the emergency situation so that churches and other religious associations were able to continue to support people. The principles of the distribution of support have been approved by the Cabinet.
"Many people are used to going specifically to a church for help in difficulties," Population Minister Riina Solman said.
"Churches and congregations provide spiritual assistance and help despite the emergency situation, the conduct of essential rites and observances continues, also soup kitchens continue their work and clothes and food are being distributed. At the same time, churches have been deprived of the possibility to receive their usual income to a significant degree. Hence it is absolutely understandable that the state supports also religious associations similar to other sectors. With the support from the state, congregations can cover expenses related to social activities to ensure assistance for people in the emergency situation," the minister said.
According to Solman, sociological surveys show that churches are on the front line when it comes to the work in solving people's worries. Valid restrictions concerning existing forms of work and interaction, which significantly affect the work of churches, have required a rapid switch to new channels of communication and ways of provision of assistance.
The minister added that several major churches have networks of congregations across Estonia, which ensure their nationwide functioning and coordinated activity also from the regional viewpoint.
The support can be paid to a religious association that has been entered into the register of religious associations, taking into consideration its broader social impact in society. Targeted money has been earmarked for activities directed towards helping the people in a more difficult situation.
There are 595 religious associations, including churches, congregations, associations of congregations, and monasteries and convents in Estonia.