Different Groups, Including The Catholic Church, Oppose The Law
Markus Soder of Christian Social Union (CSU) brought in the “crucifix obligation” or Kreuzpflicht to buttress Bavarian identity after the mass scale influx of Muslims into Bavaria. The new law states that Christian crosses must hang from all public building entrances. This law will come into effect on June 1. The Kreuzpflicht was opposed by all leading theologians and even the Catholic Church. Soder argued that Bavarians are in agreement with the law and want to protect their identity.
Religion is fast losing relevance in Germany. Religious symbols, however, continue to sell well. These material pieces are a part of the culture battle played out all over Germany three years after this European country opened doors to a million migrants. Most migrants come from Muslim dominated countries.
The upcoming October elections have influenced the CSU’s interest in the law. Soder’s party faces a tough challenge from the ultra-right and blatantly anti-Muslim party AfD, or Alternative for Germany. The AfD has found a strong base in the predominantly Catholic and wealthy Bavaria whose residents fear Islamization of their homeland. Soder himself is a Protestant. He insisted the cross signifies more about culture and religion and less about religion.
The state of Bavaria has one of the highest populations in Europe who identify themselves as Catholic. This amounts to 50 percent during the last census. About 19 percent are Protestant. Muslims comprise about four percent. These numbers, although good, have considerably declined from 70% of self-identified Catholics in the 1970s.
This move has led to protests. Prominent names in the Catholic Church, including cardinals, have termed it divisive. Franz Jung, the to-be Bishop of Wurzburg has made his stance against the move. He said the crucifix is an important religious symbol. Its importance must not be devalued to a regional custom and folkloric object. Johanna Haberer, a Protestant theologian, termed this move a big mistake. She said that crucifixes are already prominent in Bavaria. She warned that the cross is now being abused and made an instrument of antagonism.
Among ordinary Bavarians, 56 percent favor this cross rule. About 38 percent are firmly against such a step. Core support to the cross comes from AfD supporters. About 71 percent of the AfD voting electorate bats for the cross ruling. Among the CSU voters, 71 percent support such a law. The fiercest opposition comes from the Greens. About 74 percent of Greens oppose such cross politics.