Why do Germans have to travel to Switzerland to die self-determined? Why do unintentionally pregnant women have to undergo compulsory counselling? Why are physicians like Kristina Hänel being criminalized? Why does the German state grant the churches more than 500 million euros a year and why is it forbidden to dance on Good Friday? The discontent about religious patronizing in the "Church Republic of Germany" is growing – no wonder that the anticipation of the secular bus campaign "Schlussmachen jetzt!" is big.
The main concerns of the secular bus campaign, which from May 4 promotes the separation of state and church and the strengthening of the constitutional requirement of worldview neutrality, are rather abstract issues. In the meantime, however, "more and more citizens are becoming aware of the extent to which their rights are being curtailed by religious norms," says Michael Schmidt-Salomon, spokesman of the board of the Giordano Bruno Stiftung. "People want to determine their own lives and no longer be subjected to outdated religious norms. Therefore, many people no longer condone the criminalization of suicide assistants or abortion practitioners, the discrimination against non-religious workers, the cover-up of church abusers, and the payment of bishop's salaries by the state. As the past few days have shown, hardly anyone can comprehend why non-denominational people are not allowed to celebrate on Christian holidays in public and why the screening of more than 700 films is prohibited. One can sense this displeasure clearly when one reads the comments of over 500 people who have donated to the secular bus campaign in the last two weeks."
The time is ripe for the separation of state and religion
Schmidt-Salomon reveals that many people would have liked to see a relaunch of the secular bus campaign sooner. He explains that it took ten years after the first bus campaign in 2009 until the start of the second campaign by referring to the "enormous financial and organisational effort involved in such a campaign": "Therefore, it is important to think carefully about when to launch such a campaign. 2019 seemed to be the ideal year for us, as this year we can not only celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the bus campaign, but also 100 years of the Weimar Constitution and 70 years of the German Basic Law – an excellent occasion to remind politicians that fundamental rights must not only exist on paper! Moreover, only now, after all the debates and scandals of recent years, is the time ripe for a consistent separation of state and religion. We have heard this over and over again in recent weeks: The bus campaign, according to many, comes at exactly the right time!"
The costs for the bus campaign, which the Giordano Bruno Stiftung needs to raise despite the financial support from the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA) as the main sponsor, are at least 80,000 euros – not an insignificant sum even for the gbs, says Schmidt-Salomon. "This is why we had hoped to be able to obtain earmarked donations of 20,000 euros via the betterplace.org portal. We were delighted to achieve this first donation goal within a week! In the meantime, the second donation target of 25,000 euros has also been exceeded. We sincerely thank all our donors for their great support and promise to use every single euro that we have already received or will receive consistently to advance the long overdue parting from the Church Republic of Germany".