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Campaign Against Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Anti-discrimination regulations must also apply in church institutions!


The European anti-discrimination regulations must also apply in church institutions! This is the objective of the campaign "Gegen religiöse Diskriminierung am Arbeitsplatz" (GerDiA - Against Religious Discrimination in the Workplace), which was launched today. The campaign's spokeswoman is former SPD top-ranking politician Ingrid Matthäus-Maier. She regards the "offensive marginalisation policy of church enterprises" as a "scandal that must not be tolerated any further".

The campaign's central demand is to "guarantee freedom of religion and belief in all publicly funded social institutions". The church labour law leads to "obvious offences against the German Basic Law". Religious societies may not interfere in their employees' private lives. In addition, their employees should have "the same rights as other employees, i.e. the right to form a work council and to strike".

"It is absolutely incomprehensible why different regulations should apply to Caritas and Diakonie than to Arbeiterwohlfahrt", explains GerDiA spokeswoman Ingrid Matthäus-Maier. The "special tendency protection" for religious communities according to section 118, paragraph 2 of the Works Constitution Act must be deleted without replacement.

The campaign was developed by the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA) and the Giordano Bruno Stiftung (gbs). The initiators hope for broad social support. "Many people consider it intolerable that staff in hospitals and retirement homes are hired according to religion," says IBKA chairman René Hartmann. "Such discrimination against non-religious and non-believers is unacceptable."

Michael Schmidt-Salomon, spokesman of the Giordano Bruno Stiftung, agrees: "Physicians, nurses for the elderly, kindergarten teachers or debtor coaches have no mandate for promulgation. Therefore, religious affiliation must not play a role in determining whether or not a qualified, committed person is given a job."

In order to communicate its demands, the campaign has designed a website informing about the issue. There you can contact the GerDiA coordination office, which will document cases of religious discrimination in the workplace in the coming months.


The Works Constitution Act does not apply to church institutions (BetrVG § 118, sec. 2). The General Equal Treatment Act also excludes employment relationships with churches and their institutions from the prohibition of differential treatment on the grounds of religion or belief (AGG § 9). As a result, there are over a million jobs to date to which Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and non-denominational people have no access.

This is not about church activities in the literal sense, such as pastoral care and proclamation, but about physicians and kindergarten teachers, nurses and office staff, cleaning staff and caretakers. Those who are employed in church social institutions must not only renounce the right to religious freedom, but must also orient their private lives according to the ideas of the church. In the event of a violation, dismissal is imminent. In Catholic institutions, remarriage after divorce or public commitment to a homosexual partnership are also reasons for dismissal.

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