German Court: Crucifixes and Crosses Must be Removed From Schools

German Court: Crucifixes and Crosses Must be Removed From Schools

Crucifixes in Bavarian Schools

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Germany's eight-member Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe rules 5-3 that Bavarian schools must remove crucifixes and crosses from school classrooms.

This decision comes from a suit filed by a Christian couple in a small Bavarian town, Ernst and Renate Selers, who follow the teachings of humanist Rudolf Steiner and who argued that it was wrong for the state to impose the crucifix on their children every day.

This is a very unpopular decision in Germany — 58% oppose it while only 37% agree that it was the right one. Catholic leaders are calling for mass civil disobedience in order to preserve the ability of the state to favor their religion.

Bavaria's Premier Edmund Stoiber says that he'll refuse to order the removal of crosses so long as Bavaria is trying to get the decision overturned — even though decisions of the constitutional court cannot be appealed.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl says that eliminating favorable treatment for Catholicism is an attack on "our Christian tradition" and is "unintelligible in both its content and consequences."

Theodor Waigel, Germany's finance minister and head of Bavaria's Christian Social Union, says that the constitutional court is ignoring the "needs" of Bavaria's Catholic majority:

"When the court increasingly takes up the ostensible protection of minorities and pushes the legal needs of the majority more and more into the background, then the things taken for granted in our society and constitutional patriotism are in danger."

Ingo Friedrich, deputy head of Bavaria's Christian Social Union, issues a call for government officials to disobey the ruling:

"The judges and plaintiff should come here themselves and take down the crosses with their own hands. We farmers will be waiting for them with our flails."

The Association of German Judges is worried about what the impact of mass civil disobedience might be:

"The Constitutional Court acts in accordance with the constitution and has the final word over the interpretation of that constitution. The survival of constitutional order is endangered if this principle is called into question."

Johann Friedrich Henschel, head of Germany's constitutional court, warns about the consequences of politicians arbitrarily ignoring court decisions: "If this is is the start of a trend, we will be abandoning our basic rule of law."

After this decision is handed down, Ernst and Renate Selers will receive regular death threats from Christians who are upset.

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