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Religious Education in Germany in Light of Religious Diversity: Constitutional Requirements for Religious Education

  • Fabius Wittmer and Christian Waldhoff

Abstract

In Article 7, paragraph 3, the German Constitution provides that religious education shall be a part of the curriculum of public school. This is one of the three approaches of dealing with religious education existing today. Originally, religious education as a regular subject at public schools in Germany was only offered by the two Christian Churches—Catholic and Protestant. As the number of Christians decreased and the number of Muslims increased, the demand for Islamic religious education at public schools grew. Therefore, the question arose whether the constitutional law concerning religion is capable of facing the new challenges of religious diversity. This Article tries to answer this question with regard to the introduction of Islamic religious education as a measure of adaptiveness. In the first step, the requirements of Article 7, paragraph 3 of the Constitution posed to religious education will be outlined in order to be able to examine in the second step whether Islamic religious education may be introduced at public schools as a regular subject. In this regard, the issue of the qualification of an umbrella association as a religious society and the constitutionality of the advisory board model will be discussed.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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*

Research Fellow at the Humboldt-University, Berlin. Email: fabius.wittmer@rewi.hu-berlin.de.

**

Prof. Dr. iur., Chair of Public and Financial Law at the Humboldt-University, Berlin.

Footnotes

References

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1 W. Cole Durham, Jr., Introduction, in The Routledge International Handbook of Religious Education 1, 2 (Derek H. Davis & Elena Miroshnikova eds., 2013).

2 Juan G. Navarro Floria, Religious Education in Latin America, in The Routledge international handbook of religious education, supra note 1, at 197.

3 Grundgesetz [GG] [Basic Law] art. 7, translation at http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/index.html., which states:

  1. (1)

    (1) The entire school system shall be under the supervision of the state.

  2. (2)

    (2) Parents and guardians shall have the right to decide whether children shall receive religious instruction.

  3. (3)

    (3) Religious instruction shall form part of the regular curriculum in state schools, with the exception of non-denominational schools. Without prejudice to the state’s right of supervision, religious instruction shall be given in accordance with the tenets of the religious community concerned. Teachers may not be obliged against their will to give religious instruction.

4 See Weimarer Verfassung [WV] [Weimar Constitution] Aug. 11 1919, art. 149 (Weimar Republic) [hereinafter Weimar Const. 1919], which states:

Religious instruction shall form part of the regular school curriculum, except in the non-confessional (secular) schools. Its form will be regulated by laws relating to schools. Religious instruction shall be given in conformity with the principles of the religious society concerned, without prejudice to the State’s right of supervision.

The imparting of religious instruction and the performance of religious acts is left to the decision of the teacher, while the participation in religious lessons, acts, and ceremonies is a matter for the decision of those who have the right to determine the religious education of the child.

The theological faculties in the universities shall be maintained.

5 Udo Friedrich Schmälzle, Religious Education in Germany, in The Routledge international handbook of religious education, supra note 1, at 122.

6 See id.

7 Id.

8 See id. at 122–123.

9 See id. at 123.

10 Id.

11 Id.

12 See id. at 124. See also Verfassung für den Preußischen Staat [VPS] [Constitution] Jan. 31, 1850, art. 21 (Prussia).

13 Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 123–124.

14 For details on the Kulturkampf, see Peter Unruh, Religionsverfassungsrecht para. 35 (2018).

15 Id. at para. 35.

16 Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 124.

17 See Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 37.

18 See Weimar Const. 1919, supra note 4, at art. 137, para. 1 (“There shall be no state church.”).

19 See also Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 124.

20 See Weimar Const. 1919, supra note 4, at art. 146, para. 2, which states:

Within the Communes, however, on the petition of parents and guardians, popular schools professing their own faith or philosophy of life shall be established, insofar as this does not interfere with an organized school system in the sense, also, of paragraph 1, supra. As far as possible the will of the parents and guardians shall be taken into consideration. Details shall be regulated by Lands legislation based on principles prescribed by a Reich law.

21 See Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 124. For details on the so-called Weimar school compromise (Schulkompromiss), see Peter Badura, Art. 7, in Grundgesetz Kommentar para. 40 (Theodor Maunz & Günter Dürig eds., 2018).

22 Badura, supra note 21, at para. 40.

23 See Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 124.

24 See for the impact the Kulturkampf had on the current form of theological faculties at public universities Christian Waldhoff, Theologie an staatlichen Hochschulen, in Handbuch des Staatskirchenrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland para. 6 (Dietrich Pirson, Wolfgang Rüfner, Michael Germann & Stefan Muckel eds., forthcoming).

25 For the impact history has on current policies about religious education, see Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 2.

26 Silvio Ferrari, Religious Education in the European Union, in The Routledge international handbook of religious education, supra note 1, at 101.; Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 7–8.

27 For an overview about the specific characteristics of denominational religious education in European countries, see Ferrari, supra note 26, at 101.

28 Unruh, supra note 14, at paras. 37, 578.

29 Ferrari, supra note 26.

30 Ferrari, supra note 26.

31 Ferrari, supra note 26.

32 Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 5.

33 For a general overview about the three models of religious education in the public sector, see Ferrari, supra note 26; Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 4–9.

34 Ferrari, supra note 26.

35 See generally Rex J. Ahdar & Ian Leigh, Religious Freedom in the Liberal State 243 (2015).

36 Gerhard Robbers, Art. 7, in Grundgesetz Kommentar para. 115 (Hermann von Mangoldt, Friedrich Klein & Christian Starck eds., 7th ed. 2018).

37 Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, Staat, Gesellschaft, Freiheit. Studien zur Staatstheorie und zum Verfassungsrecht 60 (1976).

38 See Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 125; Ahdar & Leigh, supra note 35, at 270.

39 For more information, see Unruh, supra note 14, at paras. 53–62.

40 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfG] [Federal Constitutional Court], 74 Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts [BVerfGE] 244, 251, https://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/SharedDocs/Entscheidungen/DE/1999/02/lk19990217_1bvl002697.html; Bernd Jeand’Heur & Stefan Korioth, Grundzüge des Staatskirchenrechts para. 306 (2000).

41 More information to the so-called “limping” separation of church and state in Germany can be found in Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at paras. 159–165. The term “limping separation” was imposed by Ulrich Stutz in Die päpstliche Diplomat, ie unter Leo XIII. 54 n.2 (1926).

42 Perry L. Glanzer & Konstantin Petrenko, Religion and Education in Post-Communist Russia: Russia’s Evolving Church-State Relations, 49 J. Church & State 53 (2007) (providing further references).

43 Bernd Grzeszick, Islamischer Religionsunterricht an öffentlichen Schulen, in Zeitschrift für evangelisches Kirchenrecht [ZeVKR] 362, 363 (2017).

44 Id. at 363.

45 For the statistical data here and below, see id. at 365.

46 See id. at 365–366; Guy Beaucamp & Karin Wißmann, Islamischer Religionsunterricht—Warum ist das eine unendliche Geschichte?, 2017 Deutsches Verwaltungsblatt 1517 (2017).

47 Grundgesetz art. 7, para. 3, which states:

Religious instruction shall form part of the regular curriculum in state schools, with the exception of non-denominational schools. Without prejudice to the state’s right of supervision, religious instruction shall be given in accordance with the tenets of the religious community concerned. Teachers may not be obliged against their will to give religious instruction.

48 Stefan Mückl, Staatskirchenrechtliche Regelungen zum Religionsunterricht, 122 Archiv des öffentlichen Rechts 513, 520 (1997).

49 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 307.

50 Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 8; see Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 124–128.

51 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 311; Thorsten Kingreen & Ralf Poscher, Grundrechte para.786 (2018); Mückl, supra note 48, at 521.

52 Mückl, supra note 48, at 521–522; Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 123.

53 Mückl, supra note 48, at 521–522.

54 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 311; Frauke Brosius-Gersdorf, Art. 7, in Grundgesetz Kommentar para. 90 (Horst Dreier ed., 3rd ed. 2013).

55 Brosius-Gersdorf, supra note 54, at para. 90.

56 Id.

57 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 311; Brosius-Gersdorf, supra note 54, at para. 90.

58 Brosius-Gersdorf, supra note 54, at para. 90.

59 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 118.

60 Badura, supra note 21, at para. 70.

61 74 BVerfGE 244, at 252–253.

62 Ferrari, supra note 26.

63 Ferrari, supra note 26.

64 74 BVerfGE 244, at 252–253 (citing Gerhard Anschütz, Art. 149 WRV, in Die Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches para. 4 (Gerhard Anschütz ed., 14th ed. 1933)).

65 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 127.

66 Badura, supra note 21, at para. 70.

67 Mückl, supra note 48, at 523.

68 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 128.

69 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 129.

70 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 130.

71 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 308.

72 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 312.

73 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 312.

74 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 312.

75 See Gesetz über die religiöse Kindererziehung [KErzG] [Law on Religious Parenting], July 15, 1921, Reichsgesetzblatt [RGBl], at § 5.

76 Bernhard Schlink, Religionsunterricht in den neuen Ländern, 1992 Neue Juristische Wochenschrift [NJW] 1008, 1009.

77 Mückl, supra note 48, at 525.

78 Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 8.

79 Schlink, supra note 76, at 1009.

80 Schlink, supra note 76, at 1009.

81 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 135.

82 Robbers, supra note 36, at paras. 133–134.

83 Mückl, supra note 48, at 528.

84 For more details, see infra Section G.I.

85 Christoph Link, Religionsunterricht, in II Handbuch des Staatskirchenrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 439, 500 (Joseph Listl & Dietrich Pirson eds., 1995); Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 151.

86 Mückl, supra note 48, at 529.

87 Mückl, supra note 48, at 529.

88 Ferrari, supra note 26, at 101.

89 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 308.

90 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 162.

91 Mückl, supra note 48, at 530.

92 Ferrari, supra note 26.

93 Ferrari, supra note 26.

94 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 160.

95 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 160.

96 See infra Section F.

97 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 309; Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 146.

98 74 BVerfGE 244, at 252.

99 Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 147.

100 Markus Thiel, Art. 141, in Grundgesetz Kommentar para. 13 (Michael Sachs ed., 8th ed. 2018); Schlink, supra note 76, at 1010–1013.

101 Peter Unruh, Art. 141, in Grundgesetz Kommentar, supra note 36, at para. 8; Arnd Uhle, Die Verfassungsgarantie des Religionsunterrichts und territoriale Reichweite, 1997 Die öffentliche Verwaltung 409, 410 (1997).

102 Bundesverfassungsgericht [BVerfGE] [Federal Contitutional Court], Case No. 1 BvF 1/96, 104 Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts [BVerfGE] 305–310 (Oct. 31, 2002), https://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/SharedDocs/Entscheidungen/DE/2002/10/fs20021031_1bvf000196.html.

103 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 313; Badura, supra note 21, paras. 77.

104 See Badura, supra note 21, at para. 77.

105 Bundesverwaltungsgericht [BVerwG] [Federal Administrative Court], June 17, 1998, Deutsches Verwaltungsblatt [DVBl] 1344–1350 [hereinafter Judgment of June 17, 1998].

106 Id. at 1345.

107 Id. at 1345–1346.

108 Id. at 1347–1348.

109 Id. at 1347–1348; Badura, supra note 21, at para. 79.

110 Gerhard Czermak, Das Pflicht-Ersatzfach Ethikunterricht als Problem der Religionsfreiheit, des Elternrechts und der Gleichheitsrechte, 1996 Neue Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht 450, 452–455 (1996); Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 314; Ludwig Renck, Verfassungsprobleme des Ethikunterrichts, 38 Bayerische Verwaltungsblätter 519, 521 (1992).

111 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 314.

112 See Ahdar & Leigh, supra note 35, at 271.

113 Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 6; Ahdar & Leigh, supra note 35, at 267–269, 271–276.

114 See Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 6.

115 Czermak, supra note 110, at 452–453; Renck, supra note 110, at 520–521; but see Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 432.

116 Czermak, supra note 110, at 453–455; Renck, supra note 110, at 521.

117 Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1517; Antje von Ungern-Sternberg, Islamischer Religionsunterricht und islamische Theologie—die Suche nach verfassungskonformen Lösungen, 64 Recht der Jungend und des Bildungswesens 30 (2016).

118 Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 31–32; Riem Spielhaus & Zrinka Stimac, Schulischer Religionsunterricht im Kontext religiöser und weltanschaulicher Pluralität, 68 Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 41, 42 (2018).

119 See Bundesverwaltungsgericht [BVerwG] [Federal Administrative Court], 110 Entscheidungen des Bundesverwaltungsgerichts [BVerwGE] 326, 335–336, https://dejure.org/dienste/vernetzung/rechtsprechung?Gericht=BVerwG&Datum=23.02.2000&Aktenzeichen=6%20C%205%2E99; but see Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 445.

120 For more details, see Havva Engin, Die Institutionalisierung des Islams an staatlichen und nichtstaatlichen Bildungseinrichtungen, in Handbuch Christentum und Islam in Deutschland. Grundlagen, Erfahrungen und Perspektiven des Zusammenlebens 369, 370–391 (Mathias Rohe ed., 2017).

121 Hartmut Kreß, Islamischer Religionsunterricht zwischen Grundsatzproblemen und neuen Rechtsunsicherheiten, 2010 Zeitschrift für Rechtspolitik 14 (2010); Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 368; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 37.

122 Kreß, supra note 121, at 14–15.

123 Kreß, supra note 121, at 14–15; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 371; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 37.

124 Kreß, supra note 121, at 14-15; Spielhaus & Stimac, supra note 118, at 44; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 371–372; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 37.

125 See with regard to Islamic Theological Faculties, Waldhoff, supra note 24, at § 46 n.67; for an overview of alternative concepts of religious education existing currently in Germany, see Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 34.

126 See Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 37; Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 459.

127 Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 429.

128 See Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1520; Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 459; Barbara Gartner, Der Islam im religionsneutralen Staat 255 (2005); Wolfgang Bock, Islamischer Religionsunterricht oder Religionskunde?, in Islamischer Religionsunterricht? 3, 30 (Wolfgang Bock ed., 2007).

129 See Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1521.

130 Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1521.; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 38.

131 See supra Section C.III. See also Waldhoff, supra note 24, at § 46 n.66.

132 See Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 30; Waldhoff, supra note 24, at § 46 n.18, 62–65.

133 See Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 32; Waldhoff, supra note 24, at § 46 n.67.

134 See also Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 31–42.

135 Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 8–9.

136 Bundesverwaltungsgericht [BVerwG] [Federal Administrative Court], 123 Entscheidungen des Bundesverwaltungsgerichts [BVerwGE] 49, https://www.bverwg.de/230205U6C2.04.0123; Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1519; Stefan Korioth, Art. 137 WRV, in Grundgesetz Kommentar, supra note 21, at para. 14.

137 Link, supra note 85, at 500; Robbers, supra note 36, at para. 151.

138 Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1519–1520; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 369.

139 Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1520.

140 123 BVerwGE 49, at 72–75; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 379–380; Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1520.

141 Jeand’Heur & Korioth, supra note 40, at para. 324; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 369–370. See also Vera Niestegge, Dachverbandsorganisationen als Religionsgemeinschaften?, 2018 Kunst und Recht 140, 161 (2018).

142 Niestegge, supra note 141, at 149.

143 Oberverwaltungsgericht Nordrhein Westphalen [OVG NRW] [Higher Administrative Court of North-Rhine Westphalia], Neue Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht—Rechtsprechungs-Report [NVwZ-RR] 2004, 492, 493-494.

144 123 BVerwGE 49, at 58; Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 459.

145 123 BVerwGE 49, at 58–59. See also Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1519.

146 123 BVerwGE 49, at 56.

147 Id.; Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 459.

148 123 BVerwGE 49, at 56–57 et seq.

149 123 BVerwGE 49, at 60–61 et seq. See also Niestegge, supra note 141, at 153; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 373.

150 123 BVerwGE 49, at 59–60, 66–67. See also Niestegge, supra note 141, at 153.

151 Bundesverwaltungsgericht [BVerwG] [Federal Administrative Court], Case No. 6 B 94.18, para. 16 (Dec. 20, 2018), https://www.bverwg.de/201218B6B94.18.0.

152 Id.

153 123 BVerwGE 49, at 67.

154 Id. at 59, 67; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 370, 373; see also Niestegge, supra note 141, at 153.

155 Oberverwaltungsgericht Nordrhein Westfalen [OVG NRW] [Higher Administrative Court of North-Rhine Westphalia], Case No. 19 A 997/02, paras. 36–37 (Nov. 9, 2017), https://dejure.org/dienste/vernetzung/rechtsprechung?Text=19%20A%20997/02.

156 BVerwG, Case No. 6 B 94/18.

157 Id. at paras. 18–19.

158 OVG NRW, Case No. 19 A 997/02, at paras. 36–37.

159 Id. See also Niestegge, supra note 141, at 154–155.

160 Niestegge, supra note 141, at 160–161. This is because Islam has no teaching authority comparable to Christianity, see Ulrich Willems, Stiefkind Religionspolitik, 68 Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 9, 9 (2018).

161 BVerwG, Case No. 6 B 94/18, at para. 19; Kreß, supra note 121, at 14–15; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 38; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 370.

162 BVerwG, Case No. 6 B 94/18, at para. 19.

163 Niestegge, supra note 141, at 155–156 (stating clearly that a religious society that has no institutional teaching authority cannot meet the requirements laid down by the Federal Administrative Court).

164 See Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 460; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 374–375.

165 Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 374–375. See also Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 460.

166 For detailed information about the composition of the advisory body, see Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 460; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 39–40.

167 See Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 39–42.

168 Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 40; Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 461.

169 Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 41.

170 Moritz Indenhuck, Islamische Theologie im staatlichen Hochschulsystem 210–211, 216–217 (2016).

171 See Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 378–379; Hendrik Munsonius, Institutionalisierung Islamischer Theologie, in Göttinger E-Papers zu Religion und Recht [GöPRR] 1, 10 (2017).

172 Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 461.

173 Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 41; Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 461.

174 Unruh, supra note 14, at para. 461.

175 Munsonius, supra note 171, at 10; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 41–42.

176 See Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 41; Indenhuck, supra note 170, at 206.

177 Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 377; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 42.

178 Heinrich de Wall, Das Verhältnis von Staat und Religionsgemeinschaften in Deutschland, in Handbuch Christentum und Islam in Deutschland. Grundlagen, Erfahrungen und Perspektiven des Zusammenlebens 189, 213 (Mathias Rohe ed., 2017).

179 See Niestegge, supra note 141, at 160–161.

180 Niestegge, supra note 141, at 160–161; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 370; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 37–38.

181 See Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 370.

182 Niestegge, supra note 141, at 155.

183 See supra Section G.III.

184 See Kreß, supra note 121, at 14; Grzeszick, supra note 43, at 387–388.

185 Durham, Jr., supra note 1, at 10.

186 Kreß, supra note 121, at 16; Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1522.

187 Kreß, supra note 121, at 16.

188 Ferrari, supra note 26, at 101–102; Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 36–37.

189 See also Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 36–37.

190 Ungern-Sternberg, supra note 117, at 36.

191 Kreß, supra note 121, at 17. See also Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1522; Ferrari, supra note 26, at 102.

192 See Beaucamp & Wißmann, supra note 46, at 1522.

193 See also Ferrari, supra note 26, at 102.

194 Ferrari, supra note 26, at 102.

195 Ferrari, supra note 26, at 101.

196 See Ahdar & Leigh, supra note 35, at 270.

197 See Schmälzle, supra note 5, at 125.

* Research Fellow at the Humboldt-University, Berlin. Email: .

** Prof. Dr. iur., Chair of Public and Financial Law at the Humboldt-University, Berlin.

Keywords

Religious Education in Germany in Light of Religious Diversity: Constitutional Requirements for Religious Education

  • Fabius Wittmer and Christian Waldhoff

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