The marketing minister president of the free state of bavaria, markus soder, did it again. Recently, his crucifix decree for bavarian service buildings was a media coup that has lasted for more than a week now.
Soder likes to seek the public with provocatively displayed self-confidence (home) and most of the time his plan works, especially the users of social media love to shitstorm the CSU politician (roughly: "verbally bash someone on the internet with or without justification") and soder even seems to enjoy it.
When he posted a picture of himself from his younger days on facebook in 2015, when he was still minister of finance and home affairs, posing in front of a poster showing CSU grandfather franz josef straub, he wrote underneath: "that was the poster above my bed in my youth. What was hanging?" Promptly, he had his shitstorm and had injected himself into the public memory for a second time.
Now he no longer asks "what was hanging in your room??", now he says what "has to hang there": by ministerial decree, he stipulates that in future a cross must be displayed in bavarian official buildings. Of course, he also knows that many people already have one; he also knows that the state as an organ may not represent religious views (religious neutrality obligation, article four in the constitution), which is why he says: "the cross is not a sign of a religion", but a symbol of the christian, occidental culture.
State and religion
Because the minister-president allows himself to be driven to make such statements, he is even antagonizing the church, which naturally claims the sovereignty of interpretation over its most important religious symbol for itself alone.
The "sodersche kreuz-verordnung" is also in the district of habberge a topic. In conversations with local political leaders and church representatives, it becomes clear that most of them consider the whole debate to be exaggerated. Hermann niediek, mayor of the market town of burgpreppach, is more on the side of his party colleague markus soder. He cannot understand why the church is now upset that the bavarian government is sending a clear signal in favor of christian culture. "I do not understand why the church is now making accusations here. The cross belongs to us, he says. He also does not see any violation of the state's duty of neutrality.
Someone of a different faith or who doesn't believe at all "is not treated differently just because there's a cross hanging there," he says, he explains. "There is also a cross hanging in my mayor's room", and not just since soder decreed this in the name of the christian social union. From a party-political point of view, the whole thing is clear to him: "we as the CSU have the C in our name, why shouldn't we stand by it??"
Untermerzbach's mayor, helmut dietz, SPD, does not sing the praises of the CSU in this context just because it has a C in its name, but as a christian, the cross is very important to him as a religious symbol. Crosses hang in the town hall of untermerzbach, too, regardless of the current debate. The cross simply belongs to it "this is not discrimination. We are tolerant towards everyone." As an authority, one would therefore not deal differently with people who have a different world view.
Discussion "somewhat exaggerated
For Karl-Heinz-kandler, SPD mayor of kirchlauter, christianity is also an integral part of one's identity, and in his local authority (kirchlauter is part of the ebelsbach district) it is normal for people to hang up crosses. Surely you don't need an official decree to do that "the discussion is a bit exaggerated. From both sides", he says. Because in the matter there is basically not much to discuss, there is clarity after the legislation for a long time: "if it goes according to the basic law, there is freedom of religion. That is a high good." In order to create identity, one does not have to stand out and emphasize who or what one is. "That is the same as with the skin color. One should not let oneself be guided by such differences when judging a person."
District administrator wilhelm schneider (CSU) leaves the discussion quite cold. Because nothing else has changed: "in our district office, there are already crosses hanging in various rooms – including my office. No one has ever complained or been upset about it", he explains. And emphasizes that the official duty of neutrality remains unaffected by this: "we respect fundamental rights in our daily activities", he assures.