To attempt to generalize about the religious and spiritual scene in a land as dynamic and diverse as present-day Germany is to invite the criticism of being superficial. The most that one can hope to do is to report what he himself has felt and observed, and to recognize continually that he sees in part and reports in part. A number of elements of significance have come to the attention of this writer during the past summer, spent in the German Federal Republic and in West Berlin.
It is noticeable, first, that the question of church and slate is by no means resolved in West Germany. The problem assumed prominence again this year in relation to the Roman Catholic Church, which has no national school system as such in the Federal Republic. The courts have ruled that education is a province of the Länder or states, and thus the Roman hierarchy is compelled to deal directly with each state in educational matters.
This year, the matter has reached what seems to be a critical stage with the preparation of a draft concordat between the Holy See and the state of Lower Saxony. The aim of the concordat is to increase the amount of Catholic religious training in the public schools. Lower Saxony is approximately 80 per cent Protestant, and thus the members of the predominantly non-Catholic state teachers’ association are disturbed. Some have said they will refuse to teach any classes in religion if the concordat is ratified. At present, the attempt is being made to prove the proposed draft unconstitutional.
What is significant in the entire affair is that the national Christian Democratic party, which is largely Catholic-based, opposes the concordat—for political reasons. Chancellor Ludwig Erhard seems to fear that its ratification will ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more