New Bavarian law mandates crosses in all state offices

April 26, 2018 • 2:45 pm

Bavaria is of course a pretty Catholic area of Germany, but I’m not sure how many Bavarians really believe in God (Bavarians out there should weigh in). Nevertheless, this new law, described in the BBC article below (click on screenshot) seems to violate all canons of secularity.

An excerpt (my emphasis):

The German state of Bavaria has ordered Christian crosses to be placed at the entrances to its public buildings.

Premier Markus Söder said crosses should not be seen as religious symbols but as a “clear avowal of our Bavarian identity and Christian values”.

But opponents said the ruling Christian Social Union (CSU) was trying to score points ahead of October’s election amid fears of a rise of the far right.

Crosses are compulsory in public school classrooms and courtrooms.

The decree, which comes into effect on 1 June, will not affect municipal and federal government buildings in the predominantly Roman Catholic southern state.

Reader Florian tells me that the school cross bit is incorrect, noting that “In 1995 the German Supreme Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) ruled that the Bavarian law mandating crosses in schools was against the Constitution, in particular article 4, which grants freedom of religion. The Bavarian state still stipulates that crosses should be there, but they have to be taken down when people sue.” Clearly Bavaria needs a Freedom from Religion foundation to file these lawsuits! Why should there have to be a lawsuit to remove each separate cross?

As for Söder’s statement that “crosses should not be seen as religious symbols but as a ‘clear avowal of our Bavarian identity and Christian values'”, that’s pure hogwash (or Schweinseife, as I’d say auf Deutsch). How can they be an avowal of Christian values and at the same time not a “religious symbol”? They certainly are symbols—symbols of “Christian values”.

Söder is talking out of both sides of his mouth. It’s even more ridiculous in light of his statement (in German) that “The cross is a fundamental symbol of our Bavarian identity and way of life. He’s not fooling anyone, but clearly pandering to the religious right. This kind of nonsense is also going on in Turkey and India: increasing religiosity of a right-wing government. And then of course there’s the U.S. . . .


This part, however, confuses me:

The decree, which comes into effect on 1 June, will not affect municipal and federal government buildings in the predominantly Roman Catholic southern state.

What is the difference between a public building and a “municipal and federal government building”? The BBC doesn’t explain.

At any rate, these are rear-guard efforts in a West that’s losing its religion. I hope every Bavarian town sues to get the crosses out of the schools, and that this foolish law is overturned.

h/t: Florian

65 thoughts on “New Bavarian law mandates crosses in all state offices

  1. “What is the difference between a public building and a “municipal and federal government building”?”

    Guessing a bit, the crucial wording is the “its” in: “The German state of Bavaria has ordered Christian crosses to be placed at the entrances to its public buildings”.

    So, “municipal” = city level. “Federal” = national level. This only applies to state-level public buildings.

    1. You are right. The original DPA report is clearer than the BBC effort:

      DPA/The Local:

      “The new regulation was approved by the cabinet, allowing the new cross mandate to take effect by June 1st. The ordinance applies exclusively to the offices of the state of Bavaria, and not to federal government or municipality offices in the region.


  2. I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t an anti-Semitic sentiment behind this order. If the government is insisting on its Christian values, perhaps it doesn’t appreciate non-Christian values.

    1. Anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim
      Make you feel like you are in a Catholic Hospital in the states with a cross over every door.

    2. I bet it is a reaction to the massive influx of fundamentalist Muslims that the German government stupidly invited 3 years ago.

      Therefore, I think that German atheists would better not sue about these crosses.

      1. Indeed. It is meant to reassure conservative voters and to keep them away from the AfD (our new right wing party).

        But: As a Bavarian atheist I think we should not accept these crosses. I already signed a petition against it.

        Yes, traditional or even radical Muslims (whether they came in the last years or are here in the third generation and are German nationals) are a real problem. And I know what I am talking about, living in Munich I see fully covered women or even little girls every day and my daughter was told by a boy in her kindergarten group that she will burn in hell because she is not a Muslim…

        But how can we argue against hijab-wearing judges or teachers on the one hand while placing crosses on the walls of, e.g. courtrooms on the other hand? In my opinion, the cross on the wall is worse than a hijab worn by an individual.

        By the way, many Muslims here are quite secular(especially those with a Turkish background). They are our allies against the radicals – but these crosses send them the message that they do not belong.

        1. Exactly – I’m not a German, but it seems to me if one wants to tick off newcomers rather than integrate them, one way to do that for sure is to deliberately exclude them.

        1. It was “stupidly”, because when the situation became unbearable, Merkel stroke a deal with the disgusting tyrant Erdogan to stop the migration.
          If German government was so humanistic, it would take the refugees directly from the camps and transport them in a civilized way, instead of encouraging them to sail in leaky boats and to drown. This would also mean that the asylum would benefit Syrian families rather than lone Afghan men.

    3. Also anti-Muslim. The rise of the far-right in Germany has seen an increase in anti-Semitism, but started because of the large numbers of Muslim immigrants.

      The problem with the far-right’s arguments is the opposite has happened to what they said would happen. Like most Western countries, Germany needed more younger workers to support an aging population that hadn’t been having enough babies for decades. Despite the predictions of the far-right they currently have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe, coupled with one of the best standards of living. The German economy is one of the world’s strongest. And there have not been a whole lot of Muslim terrorist attacks as the far-right predicted.

      As for this Bavarian rule, I see it as another example of Christians claiming Enlightenment values as their own. Catholicism and its attitudes gave them Hitler. Before WWI, Germany was one of Europe’s more enlightened countries. They want that reputation back.

      1. Like most Western countries, Germany needed more younger workers to support an aging population that hadn’t been having enough babies for decades.

        That’s complete nonsense straight out of a Cato Institute white paper. (Libertarians use this trope to rationalize untrammeled consumption, SJWs to facilitate ‘multiculturalism’.)

        Western countries are overpopulated, and a reduction in population will strengthen them long-term. That is well worth the one-time financial hit of having to support a bubble passing through the oldest cohorts. Western economies are robust & resilient enough to handle that.

        Further, the problem will not be alleviated by an influx of low-skill laborers earning minimum wage (or less, if illegal), who themselves bring with them numerous non-working dependents, including the elderly.

        1. Indeed. The bulge of baby boomers (that’s my bulge) will work its way out of the population over a comparatively few years.

          In my childhood schools deployed temporary buildings and class sizes were large (40 or so), but now temporary buildings are rare and class sizes smaller.

        2. Why do you assume that all immigrants are low-skilled people working for minimum wage? They are not. Even in the racist US, immigrants are actually, on average, better educated than USians.

          In Germany, manufacturing is a much greater %age of the economy, and they make an effort to upskill their workers. They need workers, and there’s no need for the economy to “take a hit” to keep it white.

          Those that are working unskilled jobs for minimum wage in the US tend to be there illegally because of its stupid policies. If they weren’t there, the economy would do a lot more than take a temporary hit. Food production would be a major issue. Food would be extremely expensive, and a lot would have to be imported. You could literally see poor people suffering from malnutrition in the richest country in the world. But I guess that’s okay as long as you keep those immigrants out.

          1. Legal immigrants to the US are less educated than the native population:

            Education level US Immigrant
            <9th grade: 2.6% vs. 18.4%
            9-12 grade: 6.5% vs. 10.5%
            High school: 28.1% vs. 22.4%
            some college: 31.1% vs. 18.7%
            Bachelor’s +: 31.6% vs. 30.0%

            Further, 41% of legal immigrants have Limited English Proficiency.


            Illegal immigrants are understood to be even less educated.

            As 15% of recent immigrants are aged 65 or older — the same percentage as native-born, immigration in no way alleviates the worker:senior ratio problem.


            Your agriculture comments are grounded on an is/ought fallacy. US agriculture relies heavily on illegal laborers (50% of hired workers, 17% of total workforce), but there is no reason this must continue. Either current workers can be naturalized, or citizens can be recruited.

            The catastrophic scenario you envision, with “extremely expensive” food prices and shortages leading to malnutrition, is unrealistic. A 2014 Farm Bureau analysis concluded that, were all illegal farm workers deported at once, prices would rise no more than 6%. Reductions in production of 1%-3% for grains 13%-27% for meat, and 15%-31% for fruits & vegetables were predicted. This, however, posits voluntary reductions by producers on the assumption that higher labor costs could be passed on to the market.


            Event this far-from-catastrophic scenario depends on a Federal government incapable of initiating any farm subsidies, price controls, or jobs programs.

            Note well that, though food prices would rise somewhat, farm worker wages would also rise, increasing the base for social security contributions — thereby strengthening the nation’s ability to support an aging population.

            In any case, this is irrelevant, as it deals with expelling existing illegal immigrants, while we were discussing an alleged need for more new immigrants to help the economy support a one-time bubble of seniors. As the age-distribution of immigrants is similar to that of the native population, while their overall earnings potential is lower, it does nothing to that end.

            1. I realize this will piss you off completely, and sound weak and difficult to believe and just a cop out.

              I do have counter-arguments for most of what you say, but I simply don’t want to get into a debate on this topic. It’s not personal, it’s physical. My physical condition severely limits my writing time each day. I’ve been neglecting my own website because other things are taking up my capacity, and I want to focus on the posts I’m writing for that right now.

              1. The bottom line is, unless the immigrant population is younger, it will not alleviate the age distribution issue. Unless the average immigrant makes a net economic contribution greater than the average native, a new immigrant segment will not help support retirees, and may well become an added burden itself. Neither of these conditions obtain.

                But first of all, the scope of the alleged pending crisis has not been quantified, merely asserted. And even if real, no alternate responses or solutions are considered. This leads one to suspect that the aging ‘crisis’ is merely a convenient rationale for desire for immigration based on other motives.

      2. The unemployment figures are not obvious, because those enrolled in ‘training’ programs are not counted as unemployed. Even if they are in ‘training’ (on the taxpayer’s dime) for years.

        Being realistic and throwing a million or so non German speaking and limited education individuals onto the unemployment statistics will change things greatly.

        1. They’re already there. This is not a hypothetical situation. The problems predicted haven’t arisen. Germany’s economy is one of the strongest in the world.

        2. Meant to say, those workers they’re training will add value to the economy. They’re not typically going to spend their lives in training programs.

          And keeping people in training is far better than leaving them to their own devices. People in work or training are far less likely to be committing any sort if crime. Being in training makes someone feel valued bg the country, and however incrementally, their skill level is being increased. Other countries could take a leaf out of Germany’s book.

              1. Pity, as I was curious to learn how Merkel’s admission of a million unskilled, uneducated refugees-cum-immigrants, none of whom speak a word of German, was going to turbo-charge the economy.

      3. The skill labour argument for immigration is only half right. Obviously immigrants age as inexorably as old stock populations and will need to be supported by ….. more immigrants. Unless the newcomers are predisposed to breed prolifically. The real objective of mass immigration is to simply create a larger economy using predominantly low value labour. More houses, more roads, more coffee shops … more of everything except individual benefit and retention of culture, identity and social cohesion. But these things don’t typically have a measured economic margin. So, I guess, “meh”.

    4. So far, the CSU (Christian Social Union) has been very vocal about its condemnation of anti-seminitis (especially in light of recent events. They also often refer to Germany’s ‘Judeo-Christian cultural roots’ (whatever that may mean..)

      1. It’s a common mistake among liberals to view all cultures as interchangeable. Culture is much more than religion, the ability to form culture is a major component of what helped humans to form societies in all sorts of places. Within cultural norms and expectations are the results of centuries of human experience. Some of that got swept into religion, but it does not necessarily make it wrong.

        In the early times of the American settlement, different ethnic groups succeeded in some very difficult areas precisely because their culture, their sense of shared values. Groups like the ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ for example and others settled areas where life was difficult, but survived because of their shared values. Similarly the natives who lived here had completely different cultures but they too had strict rules and shared values amongst their own groups.

        The character of a nation or area is formed by a cultural evolution of the groups that live there. When a flood of outsiders overruns an area, it changes, and not always for the better.

        [There is a fundamentalist Islamic party openly dedicating to bringing sharia law to Brussels, and they’re starting to win local elections. The Belgian Socialist party is starting to get nervous, this rapidly growing (let’s be honest) frightening group is starting to eat into their influence.]

    5. I am from up North German, yet this is incorrect on the face of it.

      Bavaria is stereotypically catholic, and is always governed by the Christian Social Union, with majority.

      There are many similarities among traditionalist, Red Tribers, but also many crucial difference that it is not possible to directly compare e.g. Bavarians/CSU voters with e.g. Alabama Republicans.

      Americans read crosses in schools incorrectly through Wall of Separation, which doesn’t really exist. Germany has not one, but two state churches, Lutheran/Protestant and the Catholic One. But despite this, the religion is generally fairly secular, similar to Anglicanism, and not comparable to US Evangelicalism.

      Anti-semitism is again topic in Germany, but for entirely different reasons, and typically not related to conservative Christians (i.e. the type found in Bavaria). The anti-semitism debate is anchored on three other things: 1) a rap duo who won the equivalent of the Emmy, who have an edgelord line found antisemitic (wordplay/analogy about “defined”/chiseled bodies), 2) a non-jew who wore the kippa to document antisemitism and who was promptly attacked (I consider this case dodgy, though I don’t doubt that antisemitism is real) 3) Antisemitism coming from Muslims, also via (2).

      The CDU/CSU (i.e. conservatives/Merkel, Bavarian faction) is including a few religious elements for a few years now, which is in part a counterbalance to Angela Merkel’s fairly left course (for a Conservative).

      Her steering to the urbanite / political centre has caused that the traditional voters feel alienated; many who went over to the newcomer AFD. The AFD is far right, but nonreligious and hence why their nonreligious national conservativism is popular in the East (where decades of East Block killed traditional religion). So, religion is one element how the (far) right appear to split the cake.

      But the CDU does not try to court voters with antisemitism. On the contrary, they are pro Israel, as it is generally the case for mainstream majority parties in Germany.

  3. Not only is it a nonsense it’s stodgy boring!
    why not have a state wildlife or geological icon. How about a symbol of achievement of one of their citizens who made a goddamn difference.

    1. Heraldic symbology needs to be updated to reflect the times & to introduce a smidgeon of truth. For the “Free State of Bavaria” I suggest a pair of handcuffs crossed with a broken key. Quote from Wiki [I haven’t double checked accuracy]:

      In July 2017, Bavaria’s parliament enacted a new revision of the “Gefährdergesetz”, allowing the authorities to imprison a person for a three months term, renewable indefinitely, when he or she has not committed a crime but it is assumed that he or she might commit a crime “in the near future”

      I suppose Catholicism plays a part in the authoritarian, rules-is-rules Bavarian mind set. [I’m biased I hate the RCC]

      1. “In July 2017, Bavaria’s parliament enacted a new revision of the “Gefährdergesetz”, allowing…”
        What can i say, apart from i’m horrified.

  4. Yep, placing replicas of bronze age torture instruments in government offices should be quite heartening for the citizens of Bavaria.


  5. > I’m not sure how many Bavarians really believe in God

    I can’t find numbers on Bavarian atheists only, but non-Christians, including atheists, are about 25%.

  6. I lived and studied there, as well as in Denmark. The people I knew were perfectly happy to let religion in general fade away.
    However, recent events are proving to be polarizing.
    I have mentioned this tendency here before. I don’t think it is about actual Christian doctrine. Rather, it is a statement about being a people with principals and practices based on Christian origins.
    I do not want to attend mass at Bamberger Dom, but I hate the idea of it being turned into a mosque. That is a very distant and unlikely possibility, but things are moving slowly in that direction.
    IMHO, this is just a small bit of pushback against current momentum. There is little chance of hardcore Christian fundamentalism taking root anywhere in Germany. The Gibbets hanging on St.-Paulus-Dom are reminders of that.

  7. Ref partly to CFM’s comment to #5, above, I was at a meeting in Munich in 1982, well before my interest in WWII history was activated. But what I distinctly noticed was that above the entryways of what seemed to be public buildings, there was an architectural void. There was no ornamentation, whereas there might be on the sides of the building. Then, remembering old newsreel footage, I remembered that this was where a swastika would inevitably be.
    So it seemed clear that then ~37yrs after the war, the swastikas had long been removed, but nothing had replaced them. Not sure what’s happened in the 36yrs since then, but this sounds in a way like deja-vu.

  8. Seems of a piece with the rise of reactionary ethno-nationalist parties across Europe (and the Trumpian alt-right here).

  9. Bavaria is solidly conservative and Catholic. (Franconia slightly less so in both regards.)

    Nationally, most Germans are declared Christians, but only nominally. Only 3.5% of Lutherans and 10% of Catholics attend church. In contrast, 24% and 11%, respectively, say they don’t even believe in God!

    The regions of the former DDR remain overwhelmingly atheist, despite three decades of freedom to heed The Lord’s calling.


  10. As a German saying goes, “in Bayern geh’n die Uhren anders.” (In Bavaria, the clocks run differently.) There’s even this joke article, a “Bavarian Clock” that runs anticlockwise. 🙂

  11. Embarrassed Bavarian here:

    I agree with the assessment that this is a pre-election as well as profiling stunt of new CSU leader Soeder ahead of the upcoming state elections.

    I can’t, unfortunately, confirm the hope of our host that most Bavarians aren’t really believers and may not view this favorably. I don’t have stats on hand to back it up, but in my experience the Christian faith (not only catholic, large parts of northern bavaria are protestant) still plays a huge role in Bavaria, at least outside of the cities. No doubt in my head that Soeder has correctly predicted that this move will help him in the elections, i.e. be viewed favorable by a majority of Bavarians (the CSU is stable at >40% in Bavaria so these guys aren’t frying small fish: And this goes way beyond religion: it is pandering to the current fears of (not only Bavarian) Germans of cultural identity loss due to refugee crisis etc.

  12. One could argue that a cross is a symbol of Bavarian heritage and history but that’s very different from “identity and values”.

  13. Perhaps we shouldn’t rush to judgment here. According to a physics website I visit occasionally, the crosses may not have any religious significance. After all, they’re also the symbol for the Hermitian.

  14. “What is the difference between a public building and a “municipal and federal government building”?
    The Federal system of Germany means that the Government of Bavaria can only make the rules for buildings of the Administration/Government of the State of Bavaria. Buildings that house local administration (town halls, local traffic or housing administration for example) or buildings that are regional branches of the Federal Government in Berlin are not under the jurisdiction of the State Government and can therefore not be made to put up crosses.

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