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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crucifix in the Classroom

A recent judgment of the Administrative Court of Augsburg provides an excellent illustration of the non-separation of Religion and State in Germany [1].

In 1995, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany released the so-called “Crucifix Ruling” (Kruzifix-Beschluss) which overturned a Bavarian regulation requiring that a crucifix be hung in each classroom of the state’s primary schools [2].

The decision occasioned a public uproar in Bavaria and among the major political parties of former West Germany. Chancellor Kohl stated that "the crucifix as a symbol of Christian belief harms no one. After the XXth century's bitter experience with anti-Christian ideologies (sic) and their awful and inhuman effects, we feel a special obligation to pass these values on to future generations” [3, 4, 5]

In practice however, absolutely nothing changed at all since the Crucifix Ruling of 1995, and crucifixes still hang in public schools in Bavaria.

The government of the State of Bavaria decreed shortly after the Crucifix Ruling that for historical and cultural reasons, a cross will be hanged in each classroom; only in atypical and exceptional cases should the crucifix be removed.

An atheist teacher from Augsburg [6, 7] in southwestern Bavaria recently requested that a crucifix would be removed from his classroom. In August 2008, the Administrative Court of Augsburg decided that this crucifix must remain in his classroom.

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