Thousands quit Lutheran church in Finland after its Archbishop came out in favour of same-sex marriage

Nearly 8,000 will no longer pay taxes to church following Kari Makinen’s comments

Thousands of people have resigned from the Lutheran church in Finland after its Archbishop said he rejoiced “with my whole heart” following the government vote to legalise same-sex marriage.

According to Finland’s YLE, between the time that the vote went through on Friday and midnight on Saturday almost 7,800 people had resigned from the church using an online system that aims to ease people’s resignation.

Each person who resigns their membership also resigns their commitment to pay taxes to the church, which is the Lutheran church’s main source of income in Finland, YLE reports.

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Supporters of the same-sex marriage celebrate outside the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki

Comments left by people on the website suggest a sizable portion of the resignations were due to the comments made by the Archbishop of Finland, Kari Makinen.

Makinen said on Friday that he supported the decision to legalise same sex marriage, which will see gay and lesbian couples in Finland be able to marry, adopt children and share the same surname, though it will take some time to pass into law. The first gay marriages are expected to take place in 2017.

Following the government vote, Pink News reported Makinen as having said: “I know how much this day means for rainbow people, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them.

“We are in the same situation as our neighbouring Nordic Churches: our concept of marriage needs a fundamental examination.

“Speaking for myself, I think it is time for reconsideration. It will take place from the standpoint of the church’s own principles.”

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Finland's Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (R) hugs Finland's first openly gay MP Jani Toivola (L) after the Finnish parliament approved the bill

“I would like to warmly thank the proponents of the law, and all those who have taken part in the debates, regardless of position.”

He added: “There are many who are now disappointed and feel concern. This is understandable.

“Their experience will be respected, and the Church will listen to their fears in future, as well as in society as a whole.

“I would like to say to them: I don’t think anyone’s marriage will lose importance, the Church’s faith is not under threat, and human dignity is not in decline – quite the contrary.”

“I hope and pray that this discussion is open to all in the future, and portrays the diversity and richness of the world.”

Finland’s interior minister and Christian Democrat leader Paivi Rasanin said she will fight against the same-sex marriage legislation.

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