Crosses will not be removed from Bavaria's state buildings

Country: Germany

Date of incident: December 19, 2023

A German High Court rejected the claim that the presence of a cross infringes on the religious freedom of the plaintiffs. On December 19, the Federal Administrative Court of Leipzig dismissed a lawsuit against a Bavarian decree (Kreuzerlass) from 2018, which required the display of crosses in public institutions "as an expression of the historical and cultural identity of Bavaria".

This ruling comes after a lawsuit of the Association for Freedom of Thought (BFG), which claimed that the display of a cross would violate religious freedom because favoring the Christian religion. 

The court now ruled that the crosses displayed do represent a central symbol of the Christian faith for the objective observer. However, they do not violate the plaintiffs' own guarantee for freedom, which is covered by Article 4 (1) and (2) of the German Grundgesetz." There is no protection against a confrontation with a religious symbol such as the cross.

Furthermore, Bavaria was not violating the principle of religious and ideological neutrality by hanging up the crosses. According to the court, this "does not require the state to completely renounce religious references in the sense of strict secularism, but rather obliges it to be open to the diversity of worldviews and religious convictions and prohibits it from identifying with a particular faith". 

Sources: zeit.deEuropean Conservative