TALLINN - The Estonian Council of Churches has sent to political parties a list of proposals for the March 2023 general elections.
On Oct. 17, 20 years passed from the signing of a protocol of shared interests by the Council of Churches and the government. In several areas listed in the protocol, much has been done for the benefit of the Estonian people, however, much still needs to be done, according to the council.
Considering that congregations of the ten member churches of the Council of Churches account for around one-third of the Estonian population, the council deems it extremely important that the positions of Estonian churches and the Christian community be taken into consideration when shaping the state's future, the organization said.
The Council of Churches has thus sent a list of ten proposals to political parties in preparation for the 2023 March general elections with a request to include them in their election programs.
The council requests that the freedom of conscience, belief and religion be ensured in legislation and the implementation of said freedoms must take place in balance with other constitutional rights and freedoms.
The Council of Churches also wants marriage and family to be valued as the pillar of society and for religious education to be better organized at general education schools.
The activities of chaplains at hospitals and care establishments must continuously be supported, and the contribution of churches and congregations to communities must be recognized more, the organization said.
The Council of Churches also highlighted that legislation must take into account the historical and internationally recognized differences of religious associations.
More and better targeted state support is needed for the preservation of places of worship.
Churches also expect support to congregations' environmental protection and energy saving projects and investments.
In addition, the council wants the state to return the VAT paid on expenses made for the restoration of movable property and buildings under heritage protection, including places of worship.
The churches also want for a rule to be established according to which taxpayers would have the right to direct a share of their income tax, for example 1 percent, to a non-governmental organization, a non-profit organization, a sports or cultural society or a religious association that meets the criteria set by the state.