The Finnish Lutheran Church’s stance on welcoming refugees appears to have prompted at least a hundred people to resign their church membership. The eroakirkosta.fi website, which allows people to resign from the church online, reports that there has been an increase in resignations since Archbishop Kari Mäkinen urged people to help refugees on 2 September.
On a normal day around 80 people resign from the church via the website, but since 2 September the number has been above 140. On Saturday 5 September 196 people resigned.
Some of the comments people made revealed their decision was partly motivated by anti-refugee sentiment.
"I don’t accept that the church is to start hosting these refugees," read one.
"Unbelievable support for islamification," said another.
"I am myself an ethnic Finn, with a lower income," started another. "I did not get help from the church or from the social welfare office when I needed it. Now Archbishop Mäkinen’s (making a) speech about so-called ‘refugees’ and we could take in more than 30,000."
Members of Finland’s Lutheran Church and the Finnish Orthodox Church pay a percentage of their income into church funds. The tax is collected and distributed by the Tax Administration from salaries.