Christian teacher in Berlin banned from wearing crucifix necklace

Berlin's neutrality law is most often discussed in relation to the Islamic headscarf. But one Christian teacher has found that it applies to other religions as well.

Christian teacher in Berlin banned from wearing crucifix necklace
File photo: DPA.

A Protestant teacher working in the Wedding district of Berlin was told to immediately stop wearing her cross necklace, the German Catholic News Agency (KNA) reported on Tuesday.

Consistorial president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Protestant Church Jörg Antoine confirmed last week that the woman had been given the instructions, which were based on Berlin’s neutrality law that prohibits teachers and other public sector workers from wearing religious symbols.

The neutrality law has generally applied to Muslim women who wear a hijab, or headscarf.

Proponents of the law argue that it prevents teachers from religiously influencing their students, the Berliner Morgenpost notes.

But it has also come into question after a 2015 German Constitutional Court ruling found general headscarf bans to be unconstitutional – unless headscarves are found to “constitute a sufficiently specific danger of impairing the peace at school or the state's duty of neutrality.”

In February, a Muslim teacher in Berlin won nearly €9,000 in compensation for discrimination after she was denied a position at an elementary school due to her headscarf.

But more recently, the European Court of Justice in March upheld employers' rights to ban religious symbols if there is good reason.

Still, Antoine of the regional Protestant Church said that after the 2015 German Constitutional Court ruling, the Church finds Berlin’s neutrality law to be unconstitutional.

He further insisted that in the case of the Christian teacher, the school should have been less strict. He was supported by Berlin Bishop Markus Dröge.

“We advocate for the freedom to wear a cross,” said Dröge.