German Lutherans and Catholics Join in Court Case

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BERLIN, JULY 1, 2001 (Zenit.org).- German religious leaders have appealed to the country´s Supreme Court to make the teaching of religion compulsory in schools of an eastern state where ethics is now taught.

Lutheran and Catholic leaders, as well as representatives of the Christian Democratic Party, said that the change adopted in 1996 by the state of Brandenburg, part of former Communist East Germany surrounding Berlin, is unconstitutional.

The 1949 German Constitution establishes that religion must be taught in public schools.

Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber told the court that the case is especially important because Brandenburg is one of the areas where religion was suppressed by the Nazis and later by the Communists.

State Governor Manfred Stolpe replied that only 20% of Brandenburg students belong to a religion. "We think that compulsory religious education for the other 80% is erroneous," he said.

A court decision is expected within a few months.