Germany, for all its talk about secularism, is still a strongly Christian country. The Bavarian based CSU (which is the sister party to the CDU which operates in the other states) wanted to place a reference to Christianity in the European constitution. And a tax system which has definite leanings towards Christianity with its concept of the church tax. While one can opt out, this system was explicitly designed around Christianity. Then one also wonders why no other religion or sect has managed to get their system of getting tithes through the tax system. Then, if you dont want to pay the church tax if you were already paying it and declare that you are no longer a Christian, then you have to pay a fee. Now that’s not really freedom of religion, is there if there is a fee attached to changing the religion?
I was drawn to this issue by a visit by few German MP’s to India where they visited Gujarat and made some really interesting comments. Like, and I quote:
"It is the emergence of the Hindu nationalists, who want to make India a country which has no religion other than the Hindus'," she says. "This is, of course, contrary to the constitution. India is a democracy only on paper, I would say, because it lacks an essential feature of democracy: the rule of law."
Hmmm, a bit debatable, but ok, I wouldn't quibble. More:
"The major opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is virtually the political wing of Hindu nationalist ideology, which has certain connections to National Socialism and Fascism. It should be pointed out in Europe and across the West that one can not simply speak of a democratic, booming, economically prosperous India. One must also say that the country also has human rights problems."
Hmmm, yes, there are connections, but they are fairly minor and not really sure that I see major implications of that kind of stuff, admiring Hitler and all that. Oh!, and obviously Germany has no links to National Socialism, Neo Nazism and and and. But yes, actually all countries have human rights problems and India is no exception.
During their trip, the German MPs claimed that the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi has been described as dictatorial.
But this is where it goes cookoo, Narendra Modi is dictatorial? Ok, this made me think that the German MP’s are a bunch of wooly headed gits, lol. The MP’s take a look at 1-2 instances and not the vast majority of other places where there is NO issue, yes, we do have intra religion issues, but its getting under control. But Dictatorial? get away. So I wrote back on an email when somebody responded that they cant see the irony of a German talking about all this:
A Christian mp from a Christian party from a state which has Christianity as the official state religion coming to India funded by a Christian NGO talking about freedom of religion calling an elected chief minister as a dictator. And you can't see the irony?
But back to Germany. German school rooms also have Crucifixes in them. You as a teacher are not allowed to wear a headscarf if you are a Muslim or wear robes if you follow Osho. And then I read this, this promises to raise the proverbial brown organic matter storm in Germany. I quote:
“Christian symbols do not belong in state schools. School should be a neutral place,” said Aygül Özkan, who is a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and will be made Lower Saxony's social minister next week. She also stressed her support for the ban on headscarves in such schools – as well as accepting that church schools would be an exception from a crucifix ban…..
She also has asked the Turkish Muslim minority to integrate even more, and what was the result? Pretty typical..
She has received several threats since being picked to become social minister by the CDU, prompting the state police to provide her with protection, including body guards.
But anyway, I think this issue is going to be fun in Germany.