European Court of Justice: Churches must be liable for unfulfilled prayers

No more empty promises! The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled in a landmark decision that religious communities such as the Protestant and Catholic Churches must pay for the unfulfilled prayers of their followers. Otherwise, they could face sanctions, including immediate closure, due to “unfair competition.”

The ECJ’s groundbreaking ruling states: “Religious communities and churches recruit their members with the promise that a higher being – in this case God – will answer the prayers of believers. If this oral contract is not fulfilled, the respective institution as a whole is therefore liable.”

The devout Catholic Axel Stepnik from Berchtesgaden had previously sued through all courts after he unsuccessfully prayed that there would be a Porsche in his garage on his 30th birthday.

Seine Gebete wurden erhört: Stepniks neuer Porsche

Now the Catholic Church, whose head describes himself as God’s representative on earth, has to send the now 34-year-old the desired vehicle (model 987 Boxster Spyder) within a week.

The churches that had prayed in vain for a different outcome to the court case now fear a wave of lawsuits from disappointed believers whose prayers have not been answered.

The lawyer specializing in canon law, Dr. Bertram Klausen gives Postillon readers who are keen to sue the most important points that they should pay attention to if they want to claim compensation for unfulfilled prayers:

1. You must be able to prove that you are a member of a religious community. A baptism certificate and proof that you pay church tax are sufficient. Non-religious people and Muslims (not legally verifiable since there is no unified church) are left empty-handed.

2. Pray out loud in front of witnesses or record your prayer on audio so that the church cannot excuse itself.

3. Formulate your prayers clearly and, ideally, set a precise deadline by which each wish should be fulfilled.

4. Prayers for monetary amounts and clearly defined material objects can be more easily enforced than non-material demands (e.g. physical health, world peace, victory of the favorite club, death of a rival). However, the compensation for unspecified claims can ultimately be much higher.

In addition, the lawyer advises anyone suing for the fulfillment of their prayers to pray, taking into account points 1-4, that the church will cover the legal costs in the unlikely event that the lawsuit is dismissed.