Press Release Munich / Erfurt, 27 April 2013
We are Church on
The Federal Labour Court judgment "Termination for leaving the church"
The church reform movement We Are Church opines that for the sake of the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church a review the right of self-determination of religious communities, which was taken over from the Weimar Constitution, is urgently required. The Catholic reform movement calls on all political parties and their Members of Parliament to finally undertake a review of Article 140 of the German Fundamental Law, given the recent judgment by the Federal Labour Court.
Article 140 of the Fundamental Law which was taken from the Weimar Constitution (Article 137 WRV) guarantees each religious community the right to arrange and manage their affairs independently, but within the limits of the law that is valid for all. For modern legal understanding this regulation leads to increasingly frequent conflicts between fundamental rights of the individual and the rights of an institutional religious community. So it is no longer acceptable that the churches and their associated charities may invoke at terminations of employees that they are facilities based on ideology (philosophy?), even in the cases when no religious content is taught. This is especially true given the fact that these facilities are state-funded in their totality or to a very large extent.
However, in the latest judgment of 25 April 2013-2 AZR 579/12 The Federal Labour Court could not get to a different judgment due to the legal situation. But the majority of citizens and also of Christians have less and less understanding for this state of affairs. In this particular case, an employee was fired by a church facility despite the fact that since 1992 he had an irreproachable working record and no religious content to convey in his work, as the Court determined. Only when these contents are taught directly, for example as a pastor, chaplain, pastoral or community assistant, religion teacher a reference to the amended Article 140 of the Fundamental Law should be susceptible of being used. The reason invoked by the church or by Caritas, namely a direct "serving of the human person" is certainly a key feature of their activity, but no specific "mission" of the Catholic Church.
The current insistence of the church or of Caritas on their right of termination is even more incomprehensible when the German church leaders have not yet reacted in an appropriate form upon the judgment on leaving the church of 26 September 2012, according to which the community of faith has the duty to determine the criteria of membership in their community. To have one’s name on a list of the tax collection office can not in any event be constitutive for a person’s faith.
The churches which are important partners of the state should do everything to avoid provoking hostility towards religion, which could arise from conflicts and unresolved issues concerning church tax, labor and religious instruction. We are Church will continue to insist that the church leadership makes clear statements that correspond to the New Testament, and do not follow a traditional legal practice which is contrary to the Gospel.
The church reform movement We are Church has created at their Federal Assembly in Bamberg in March 2013, a working group on "church and state" which will deal with the intense intertwining of church and state relations.
Press Contacts We are Church Germany Team: