The German state of Bavaria ordered that Christian crosses must be mounted on all government buildings.
Regional prime minister Markus Söder announced the directive, saying “The cross is a fundamental symbol of our Bavarian identity and way of life.”
Hanging up the cross and making it a clear sign of unity, reconciliation, peace, brotherhood and solidarity is, of course, a good thing. ~Catholic Archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick
The newly-sworn-in leader used social media to explain that displaying crosses is a “clear avowal of our Bavarian identity and Christian values.” To initiate the change, he hung a cross at the entrance of the state chancellery in Munich, Germany, reports Deutsche Welle.
Söder justified that the move was not against the German constitution, which guarantees religious neutrality. He said the cross is more a symbol of Bavarian identity than religion. Bavaria is a predominantly Christian state, with more than half of the population adhering to the Catholic faith.
The initiative drew mixed reactions among church leaders, reports The Telegraph.
The Catholic Archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick, lauded Söder’s directive. “Hanging up the cross and making it a clear sign of unity, reconciliation, peace, brotherhood and solidarity is, of course, a good thing.”
However, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, head of the German evangelical church, expressed concern that the cross might be misused. He said religious symbols such as the cross shouldn’t be used for political purposes.
Opposition leaders denounced the move as unconstitutional and claimed it was a cheap strategy to gain votes for the state’s election later this year.
“Söder’s unconstitutional crucifix decree is not just the clumsiest election campaigning, but also exploitation of religion for personal reasons,” said Jan Korte, the leader of the Left party’s parliamentary group in the federal parliament.
A leading Catholic theologian was also not in favor of the move. Burkhard Hose claimed that the prime minister is “using Christianity to exclude people of other faiths.”