»Wer glauben will, muss zahlen«? Erwerb und Aufgabe der Kirchenmitgliedschaft im Spannungsfeld von Kirchenrecht und Religionsverfassungsrecht
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The article discusses whether it is possible to secede from the Catholic Church as a legal entity – that is to say, with regard to the specific situation in Germany: as a corporation under public law – and yet retain the status as a full-value member of the church as a spiritual community. Scrutinising this question from both the perspective of canon law and German constitutional law, I argue that this question is not for the individual but only for the church to decide. Religion cannot be reduced to an individualistic understanding. By contrast, religious freedom should be conceived of primarily as protection of religious communities and their systems of belief in which the individual believer takes part. Broadening the perspective, this approach allows for a more general theory of fundamental rights: Instead of regarding fundamental rights merely as personal entitlements of the individual subject, we should recognise that they also protect different modes of communication which precede every individual act of communication.