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Father sparks classroom crucifix row in Bavaria

The Local · 17 Nov 2010, 16:02

Published: 17 Nov 2010 16:02 GMT+01:00

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Bavaria puts a crucifix in every public school classroom in the heavily Catholic state, but education officials are required to take them down if parents complain.

Exactly that situation occurred at the beginning of the school year at the Albertus Magnus university-preparatory high school, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Wednesday.

Taking down crosses is rare, but obligatory if someone complains following a court ruling in 1995, which found that the Christian symbols violated the religious neutrality of the school system.

“Usually it happens quietly and within the school community,” spokesperson for the Bavarian Education Ministry Ludwig Unger.

But members of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) have been outraged since the incident came to light over the weekend. A Christian committee within the CSU led by state parliamentarian Thomas Goppel has demanded the cross be returned to its position immediately.

“I have no understanding for one parent’s demand to take a cross out of a classroom if it defies the wishes of the majority of other parents,” Mayor and CSU member Gerhard Weber told the paper.

Weber was apparently particularly miffed that the father concerned was not a native German.

“The question must be asked whether the hospitality that we gladly extend to foreigners has been worn out,” he said.

The school has kept the father’s identity anonymous, but Weber demanded the man step forward to discuss his complaint.

Another CSU member, Bavarian school minister Ludwig Spaenle, said he could “understand why people would shake their heads at the removal of a cross,” Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

But the school’s director Wilhelm Pfaffel questioned whether the issue would be so controversial if the father’s heritage wasn’t in question. Though he remains anonymous, he has received death threats, Pfaffel told the paper.

According to regional daily Mittelbayerische Zeitung, the man is a university professor of physics who came from an English-speaking country in 2006.

As an atheist he took issue with a daily morning prayer in his son’s classroom – which he had not been informed about. When he spoke with the teacher about it, she agreed to reword the devotional as a “good morning circle” and recommended that they also remove the cross, the unidentified man told the paper.

Story continues below…

But some of other parents were displeased with the decision, and the issue found its way to the media, sparking the debate, Süddeutsche Zeitung said.

Meanwhile local religious leaders have also weighed in. On Monday night Bishop Ludwig Müllers appealed to non-believers for tolerance of Christian symbols.

“The cross is our expression of a civilisation of love,” he said.

The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:38 November 17, 2010 by lecturenotes2009
i am glad that the Father is a university professor of physics. Yeah, i agree with all above comments. All fairy tales should be banished from the school. it's called being neutral. Otherwise, kick my ass... LOL...
19:11 November 17, 2010 by sonriete
The people of Bavaria did elect the CSU to govern the state, if people don't like the prevailing social order they can always vote green at the next election and they will have their way.
19:51 November 17, 2010 by Gretl
¦quot;The cross is our expression of a civilisation of love,"

Which is expressed through death-threats. Just another reason I am not a Christian.
21:00 November 17, 2010 by Doogle
Crucifix - a fixation about a mans body being nailed to a piece of wood, duh! Should never be in a classroom in the first place.
21:53 November 17, 2010 by Jeremy Krauss
Absolutely ridiculous to have an religious symbols in classroom in any democratic free society. If someone has to be afraid to speak out about this especialy after a court ruling then what country are we in Germany 2010 or Germany 1938
23:42 November 17, 2010 by bernie1927
If the cross were in a private catholic school that is one thing. It certainly does not belong in a public school. The brotherly love of the Christians is beautifully expressed by death threats!! Totally ridiculous.
01:09 November 18, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, for starters, the culture and way of life of every nation on earth is based upon a particular religion.

I can personally say that Christianity has extraordinary benefits, when followed properly. There are literally no negative characteristics.

Germany, America and other Western nations are becooming to liberal. This explains why they have encountered so many unprecedented problems.

Science will always be incomplete until it discovers the origings of life. Believe me, there really is a God. And bad things will always happen when humans don't do as they should.
01:11 November 18, 2010 by Bishopbayern
Awful father wanting the cross removed. All of the above enjoy living in a society based on Christianity yet attempt to undermine it every chance they get. Go try living in an Islamic society see how you get on. And don't give me the story about secularism, that only leaves breeding space for the extremists. Time you all refelected on what has made our society good and its not by ignoring a wonderful faith. Shame on you all.
02:23 November 18, 2010 by janreg58
Fairy tale or not. It's everyones right to believe how they like. Whatever makes one feel safe and loved..a reason to live if you are alone. For a child, it's a warm,fuzzy,cuddly teddy bear. We as humans are taught to look for comfort in objects, seen or unseen,from birth. We can't carry a bear around, so we turn to other things, Jesus,alcohol, drugs...which of these is worse? Me, I prefer Jesus. He doesn't hurt anyone, and he doesn't cost me anything. And alot of times, whether it may be coinsidence or not, he answers my prayers. We can draw all kinds of nasty graffiti all over our city walls, and we can have nudity in our corner porn shop, but a school can't have a beautiful crucifix? Figure out what makes you feel comforted, and don't tell anyone, because they might make you get rid of it too!!
02:38 November 18, 2010 by bartschaff
@janreg58: keep your teddy bear in your arms and I won't care at all; hang it in the wall and make my kid pray to it and you found problem.

@Bishopbayern: "secularism only leaves breeding space for the extremists." Right. Of course. Just in case you forgot the obvious: these extremists are *religious*. Got it? They are people much more like you than like atheists.

"refelected on what has made our society good" I do. I promise you. And every good thing I think of, from the possibility to develop medicine to women's rights, passing by freedom of speech and the right to think rationally was achieved against the will of Christians.
07:02 November 18, 2010 by janreg58
Look the other way or walk away bartschaff. No one can make anyone do anything they don't want to do, that's the beauty of having a mind of your own. But in todays world everyone wants to fit in, go with the flow. Just do whatever makes your boat float, but don't sink mine on the way.
07:55 November 18, 2010 by Talonx
@ janreg58

You've got the situation a little backwards. Leaving the cross up and having class prayer in a school were secularism was expected would force some children to do something they are perhaps uncomfortable with. Taking the cross down and not doing a class prayer in a school advertised as being secular is the norm and forces nothing unexpected on nobody.

As to your assumtion that the rest of us are as incomplete as you in that if we do not have god, then we need drugs or alcohol. It's a shame that you have such low opinion of your own abilities, but please do not condescend the rest of us who get by just fine with the love we have in our daily non-supernatural lives.
09:27 November 18, 2010 by mehta_p
"education officials are required to take them down if parents complain"


when i was too young horror movies and some scary photos were bothering me during my sleep. But how come crucifix bother HUMAN is a mistery for me.

I am not christian and still believe in God who is omnipresent. So for that father: you can't remove him from the universe.

For you crucifix might not create healthy atmosphere for your children but it must not bother him. Whatever hate is there which is only in your HEAD. (dck.head)

Let your son take experiences by himself.
10:04 November 18, 2010 by dbert4
"Believe me, there really is a God. And bad things will always happen when humans don't do as they should."

Bad things? Like Santa not come this year or is it the Easter bunny?

Humans create their own misery....usually with a lot of help from religion.
11:08 November 18, 2010 by MaKo
¦quot;I have no understanding for one parent¦#39;s demand to take a cross out of a classroom if it defies the wishes of the majority of other parents,¦quot; Mayor and CSU member Gerhard Weber told the paper.

Majority rule should *not* apply to religion... it seems like Germany has had ample opportunity to learn this lesson. Regardless as to where Papa Aetheist is from, he has a point. Get on with it, Deutschland. People can be as Christian as they want to (or not), but it is a family's job to indoctrinate its progeny into one religion or another and not the role of a public school. The schools don't even do that in my right-wingin', tea partyin' land of origin!
11:44 November 18, 2010 by woohoo
Basically these treats or conditions are "normal" social reactions from the people and government. Because they are the majority. And the minority always 'suffer' from this kind of treatment. It does not happen only in Germany where the majority of people are Christians. In the country with majority of muslim, for example, the christian's (or other religions) citizens experience also the same treatment.

The people must see the world to be openminded. Religion is a sensitive and private topics but yet it is universal.
11:49 November 18, 2010 by rgmx4u
Yes, get rid of all that symbolises religion everywhere - and don't forget the churches, mosques, synagogues and temples of any denomination...< /sarc>
12:24 November 18, 2010 by Joshontour
A crucifix hanging in a classroom does nothing to "indoctrinate" children or "shove religion down their throats," I have no fear of what they teach my kids at school, because at home I have the largest influence as to what they believe wholeheartedly and what they take with a grain of salt. If you sit down with your kids every day, and discuss with them what they learned in light of your beliefs it will do a few things. Not the least of which is teaching your kids to think critically; our discussions at home teach the kids not to believe everything they hear without thinking, and questioning. Telling the schools they can't teach this or can't teach that because it might offend somebody is what is leading to the dumbing down of our society. We are taking away the fundamentals of critical thinking and logic by saying they cannot teach what we don't agree with.
12:29 November 18, 2010 by Sylvie7
Interesting. Only two generations ago Germany committed horrible crimes against humanity. The crucifix displays the death of a Jew. Where did ethics, humanity,

compassion etc. fit into this intense religious fervor in a country whose population was swept away in adoration of a lunatic, who would have murdered Jesus and his entire family? Sounds like an absurd issue to me in view of the evil done in the name of this religion throughout European history.
16:18 November 18, 2010 by janreg58
Whatever floats your boat talonx. I wasn't forcing anything on anyone. I was looking at "humans" in general, not at you or anyone personally. You seem to be a person who is always on the defense, ready to attack someone who has something different to say than you. And by the way, I love my way of life.
19:55 November 18, 2010 by LairdKeir
In fact, I was just at the State Parliament for the start of the Model United Nations event where a giant crucifix is suspended above the stairs at the entrance. What happens if someone complains about that? Seems a bit hypocritical f it's allowed in such a conspicuous way at such a site whilst controversy seems to affect the decision to do away with them at local schools.

22:42 November 18, 2010 by zencv
Thank God the man who asked this is not a Muslim. Otherwise, we could have expected another round of whining from CSU/similar minded Germans about how their superior "Leitkultur" is being destroyed by immigrants :-)
04:18 November 19, 2010 by brianboru
The Christian [Roman Catholic] Church civilized the barbarian germanic tribes, replaced the Roman magistrates, raised the status of women, founded universities, promoted the arts, sciences, medicine, philosophy, free discourse and debate in the schools, and preserved the great Roman and Greek authors. You, who are quick to disparage Christianity, should read history. Twice Islam was poised to take over all of Europe. Once Europe was saved in a naval battle off Cyprus: centuries later a Christian Victory outside Vienna. If those who post on this site are a fair sample of Europe, there isn't much left worth saving.
12:50 November 19, 2010 by munich_area_mom
Anybody else find the comments of the mayor offensive?

¦quot;The question must be asked whether the hospitality that we gladly extend to foreigners has been worn out" Am a native English-speaker, have been here over 10 years PAYING TAXES and all the social costs!, and have no problems with paying my fair share. But 'hospitality' ??? Really.
15:34 November 19, 2010 by mixxim
If I nail my neighbour's cat to a post, will all the cruel cats that torture birds and mice go to heaven?
23:29 November 19, 2010 by owlafaye
Why get mad because we are trying to shove this symbol of foolishness down your throats at every empty spot on the walls of the world? After all Jesus loves you. Geeeeeeeeeeeee Thanks Jesus...thats mighty mighty mighty mighty mighty mighty mighty NICE of Jesus, ain't it folks?
23:30 November 19, 2010 by flagwag

Just a couple of thoughts here:

A. The official Bavarian Anthem includes many references to God and even calls Bavaria His country. Apparently, Bavaria is a Christian state.

B. Nobody forces the child to pray in class. Thousands of atheist children attended Bavarian schools, none of them were forced to pray.

C. If a parent believed in Creationism, will the rest of the class not be able to hear about evolution theory, too?

D. Is it expected that the child of an immigrant to the US stand and pledge allegiance to the flag in school every morning? ... including "one nation under God".

E. Minority rules... it seems.
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