Klares Bekenntnis zu unserer bayerischen Identität und christlichen Werten. Haben heute im Kabinett beschlossen, dass in jeder staatlichen Behörde ab dem 1. Juni ein Kreuz hängen soll. Habe direkt nach der Sitzung ein Kreuz im Eingangsbereich der Staatskanzlei aufgehängt. pic.twitter.com/o99M0dV4Uy
— Markus Söder (@Markus_Soeder) April 24, 2018
Markus Söder hanging a cross on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder implemented his first government declaration in state parliament on Tuesday by saying that crosses are to be mandatory in all public offices in the southern state.
The crosses, which are to hang in the entrance area of all state administration buildings, are said by the Christian Social Union (CSU) politician to have an explicit symbolic value.
Söder asserted at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that these should not be a religious symbol of Christianity, but rather a “commitment to Bavarian identity” and “cultural imprint”.
“The cross is not a sign of religion,” he said after the cabinet meeting. “This is not a violation of the principle of neutrality.”
The new regulation was approved by the cabinet, allowing the new cross mandate to take effect by June 1st. The ordinance applies exclusively to the offices of the state of Bavaria, and not to federal government or municipality offices in the region.
Alternative for Germany (AfD) officials reportedly welcomed the announcement, while other parties voiced their concern about the CSU's religious policies ahead of state elections in six months' time.
“Instead of nailing crucifixes to the walls of the authorities, it would do more justice to Christian responsibility to show mercy and charity in everyday political life,” said Bavaria's state chair Sigi Hagl of the Green party.
The chairman of Die Linke, Bernd Riexinger, reacted similarly: “Instead of imposing a cross on every authority, the CSU should rather return to Christian values such as charity.”
Free Democrat (FDP) leader Christian Lindner said: “The way Markus Söder and the CSU permanently instrumentalize religions for party politics is reminiscent of (Turkish President) Erdogan. The Basic Law has no denomination!”
Söder immediately hung a cross in the entrance area of the Bavarian State Chancellery after the Tuesday meeting, emphasizing that the symbol should be seen as an expression of elemental values such as charity, human dignity and tolerance.
But the actual cross which was put up by the Minister-President does have a religious background. It hung in the Cabinet Room until 2008, was a gift from the former Munich Cardinal Friedrich Wetter and, according to Söder, was also consecrated by the religious figure.
In 2016, almost nine million of the approximately 12.8 million people living in Bavaria were members of a church – much higher than the proportion of church members in other federal states. The south German state is one of the most Catholic regions in the country.