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The complexities of regulating religion in Germany

Vol. 4, No. 1, August 2008
Deutsch | français

Sylvie Toscer-Angot, Université Paris 12

In Germany a number of religious groups (Muslim organizations, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.) attempt to obtain the same rights as those attributed to the official Christian Church. Their demands particularly aim at obtaining the coveted status of “Public Corporation” (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts). The federal states (Länder) are the competent political interlocutors in matters of religion and do not hesitate to oppose themselves to the judgments of judicial authorities as to the rulings concerning politico-religious questions. This challenge of judgments, for instance of those rendered by the Karlsruhe Constitutional Court, by other public powers, raises a number of questions, most notably the question which are the supreme decisional instances regarding the demands of religious groups. By examining a few significant examples such as the crucifix affair in Bavaria or the issue of the head scarves worn by Muslim schoolteachers in their workplace, the article provides elements of answers to these problems.