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100 Years of Constitutional Breach

The criticism on the disregard of the requirement of ideological neutrality continues

As of today it is official: The requirements of the Weimar Constitution for the equal treatment of all religions and worldviews as well as for the replacement of state payments to the churches have been ignored for 100 years, i.e. since their enactment on 14 August 1919. It is uncertain how long the Giordano Bruno Foundation's "Verfassungsbruchticker" ("Breach of the Constitution Ticker") will continue to operate until it can be shut down. It is certain, however, that the criticism of the disregard of the requirement of ideological neutrality of the state will not subside.

Last night anyone could take the pleasure of watching online how the "Verfassungsbruchticker ("Breach the Constitution Ticker") on the website of the Giordano Bruno Foundation (gbs) and the Institute for Secular Law (ifw) changed from 99 years, 11 months, 30 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes to 100 years, 0 months, 0 days, 0 hours and 0 minutes. Since then, the ticker continues to count - and it will continue to do so until that day, probably distant, when the worldview demands of the Weimar Constitution, which were integrated into the German Basic Law in 1949, will finally be fulfilled.

The list of constitutional violations is longer than many suspect. After all, the issue here is not only the annual state payments to the major Christian churches totalling over 500 million euros, which were in fact to be abolished in 1919, but also, for example, the inclusion of one's denomination on the wage tax card, which violates Article 136 of the Weimar Constitution, according to which no one is obliged to reveal one's religious convictions. Likewise, the churches' so-called "right of self-determination", which they use to justify the worldview discrimination of dissenters on the labour market, is hardly compatible with the constitution's mandate. For the Weimar Constitution (and thus also the Basic Law) does not recognize a special right of ecclesiastical self-determination, but only a right of self-administration and self-order "within the bounds of the law applicable to all". The religions are thus by no means above the law - a demand that would also have to be enforced against non-Christian religious communities in due consequence.

Violations of the requirement of neutrality, however, are not only to be found in the field of the so-called "state church law". Surprisingly many laws are based on religious ideas, although such ideological partiality is strictly forbidden to the state. A striking example of this are the German laws on abortion, which fall back on the Catholic dogma of simultaneous animation and on this basis unintentionally undermine the self-determination rights of pregnant women. In fact, the freedom rights of citizens are still illegitimately restricted by Christian faith guidelines - from the cradle to the grave, and even beyond, i.e. from embryo protection to the requirement to bury the dead in a cemetery (cf. the basic essay "The Blind Spot of the German Legal System" by gbs spokesman Michael Schmidt-Salomon).

The Institute for Secular Law (ifw), founded by the Giordano Bruno Foundation, tries to strengthen the principle of the worldview neutrality of the state, e.g. by accompanying model proceedings. In order to accelerate the academic debate in this field, the institute now also publishes its own series "Schriften zum Weltanschauungsrecht" ("Publications on the Secular Law") published by Nomos Verlag. Volume 1 of the series, edited by Jacqueline Neumann, Gerhard Czermak, Reinhard Merkel and Holm Putzke, has recently been published. The book offers groundbreaking contributions to secular law and discusses, for instance, how the liberal constitutional state should appropriately (rationally, evidence-based and worldview neutral) address issues of euthanasia, church tax, circumcision or abortion, child abuse, and confessional religious education.

A short, easily understandable overview of the topic is provided by the brochure "Abschied von der Kirchenrepublik" ("Farewell to the Church Republic"), published by the Giordano Bruno Foundation as part of the launch of the Secular Bus Campaign "Schlussmachen jetzt!" The freely available "Verfassungsbruchticker" ("Breach the Constitution Ticker") can be easily integrated into any website using the following HTML code:<iframe src="" width="350" height="300" style="padding:0 0 0 0;margin:0 0 0 0 0;" border="0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" name="Verfassungsbruchticker"></iframe>n