Legislation, financing and administration
The Finnish state is neutral with regard to religions and churches. However, there are close institutional and legislative links between the State and the Church.
The Ministry of Education and Culture administers matters relating to the Churches and other religious communities in Finland and drafts legislation relating to them.
The Constitution and secular laws secure the freedom of religion and the rights of religious and non-religious minorities. The freedom of religion in Finland is enshrined in the Freedom of Religion Act.
Legislation and administration
For historical reasons, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Orthodox Church of Finland hold special status and they are governed by special legislation.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church ‘s own organ, the General Synod uses the highest authority to make decisions in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. It deals with doctrine and Church work as well as with its legislation, administration and finance. The national Parliament, which must ultimately ratify church law, has no right to alter the content of the proposals it receives from the Synod: all proposals must be either accepted in their original form or rejected altogether.
The Orthodox Church of Finland has a special institutional status. The Orthodox Church adopts a church constitution which provides more precise stipulations for church activities and administration.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Orthodox Church of Finland have the right to collect taxes.
The members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church pay church tax to their congregations. In addition, the congregations receive a share of corporation tax income and fulfil certain societal functions. Other religious communities do not have the right to levy tax.
Registered religious communities are also eligible to apply for state funds.
The register of religious communities
The Freedom of Religion Act forms a legislative framework for the founding and activities of registered religious associations.
A registered religious association is a type of independent special legal subject, like a registered association, corporation, co-operative or trust. The register of religious communities is kept by the National Board of Patents and Registration.
An Expert Board functioning in connection with the Ministry of Education and Culture has
the task of giving the National Board of Patents and Registration its opinion whether the purpose
and forms of activity of a particular religious community are in compliance with the Freedom of