Although the influence of the two major churches on federal politics has declined in recent years, church and religion continue to play an important role as political issues in the Bundestag. Whether it is the future of the church’s labor law and state services to the churches, dealing with Islam or the fight against anti-Semitism – many of the issues currently being discussed affect the relationship between the state, religious communities and communities. To address these issues, all parliamentary groups – with the exception of the AfD – during this election period have appointed or elected their own spokespersons for religious policy. Katholisch.de introduces the speakers.
SPD: Lars Castellucci
Alongside Konstantin von Notz from the Green Party, Lars Castellucci is the only spokesman for religion and politics who has held this office in the recent election period. The 47-year-old can thus already now refer to parliamentary experience in the field of church and religion. Castellucci is Protestant and was previously active in his church, including as the leader of a church choir and as chairman of the district synod in the church district of Wiesloch. Since 2016, he has also been a member of the Chamber for Migration and Integration of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).
Castellucci has repeatedly positioned itself clearly in recent weeks to deal with abuses in the Catholic Church. After the publication of the Munich Abuse Report, he explained, for example, that reports of this kind in a church context would only bring the tip of the iceberg to light. “The treatment is not currently working and can not work at all as it is being done,” the SPD politician said. As a consequence, Castellucci spoke out in favor of upgrading the Federal Government’s independent commission of inquiry. In accordance with the traffic light coalition agreement, he also calls for a replacement of state services to the churches. This must be initiated during this election period.
CDU / CSU: Thomas Rachel
Thomas Rachel has been a member of the Bundestag for the CDU since 1994, making him one of the most experienced members of his parliamentary group. The 59-year-old Protestant is also heavily involved in the church. Among other things, he is the regional synod of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland, deputy of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and since 2015 a member of the Council of EKD, the highest governing body. of the Evangelical Church. In the Union, he has been the Federal President of the Evangelical Working Group of the CDU / CSU (EWC) since 2003.
As church policy spokeswoman for the union faction, Rachel succeeded former federal health minister Hermann Gröhe, who had held office during the previous election period. After her election, Rachel explained, “As a group with the C, the Christian image of man is the foundation, the compass, and the value we live by, on the basis of which we want to discuss political issues and then make responsible decisions.” The “C” in the party name, he recently declared the letter and its meaning to be the “true treasure” of the Union. The “C” is the essential guarantee that “we will remain rooted in the breadth and center of society in the future”. And further: “If the CDU abolishes the C, it abolishes itself.”
Greens: Konstantin von Notz, Lamya Kaddor and Marlene Schönberger
The Greens are taking a new path in this election period when it comes to responsibility for the issues of church and religion. Instead of just appointing a spokesperson, a team of three will take care of this area in the future. This is justified by the strong growth of the parliamentary group after the federal elections. In addition to Konstantin von Notz, who has served as spokeswoman for religion and worldview for the past four years, Lamya Kaddor and Marlene Schönberger will also be working on these topics in the future. According to the information, von Notz is responsible for Christianity / church, Kaddor for Islam and Schönberger for Judaism / anti-Semitism. The work will be coordinated by Kaddor.
Von Notz has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009 and in the early years made a name for himself as a member of the NSU Commission of Inquiry and as an expert in Internet politics. In this capacity, in 2015 he called on the two major churches in Germany to become more involved in the debate on digitization; it is a matter of setting the course for social coexistence. The 51-year-old also repeatedly took a clear stand against the AfD’s religious-political demands. Von Notz is a Protestant and has, according to his own statement, become a “believing Protestant” through his work with young people. Even in secular Berlin, his family is attached to a small community. At the same time, he emphasized in an interview in 2019 that he had great understanding for people who moved secularly. “In my personal environment, the plurality of our country is well reflected, and I think that’s nice,” von Notz said.
Kaddor was newly elected to the Bundestag this autumn. The 43-year-old is the daughter of Syrian immigrants and was born in Ahlen, Westphalia. Among other things, she studied Islamic studies and educational science and held lectureships at various universities in North Rhine-Westphalia. After obtaining the Islamic teaching license, she has been teaching the general subject of Islamic religion since 2013. In 2010, she co-founded with some other Muslims the Liberal-Islamic Association in Cologne and is the first president there.
Schönberger is also new to the Bundestag. The 31-year-old comes from Landshut in Bavaria, studied political science and completed his master’s degree four years ago. Before moving to the Bundestag, she worked as a research assistant in the Bavarian state parliament. In December, she explained at a panel discussion in the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk that the Ampel coalition agreement provides a good basis for promoting Jewish life in Germany. It contains a “clear focus” on combating anti-Semitism and conspiracy myths. At the same time, however, one must also talk more about the diversity within Jewish culture and promote art, culture and scientific projects.
FDP: Sandra Bubendorfer lys
As successor to Benjamin Strasser, Sandra Bubendorfer-Licht took over as spokeswoman for religious policy in the FDP’s parliamentary group in mid-December. The 52-year-old has been in the Bundestag since 2019, where she replaced the late MP Jimmy Schulz. In the federal elections in September, Bubendorfer-Licht re-entered parliament via the FDP’s Bavarian state list. During this term of office, she is, among other things, chair of her party in the Committee on Home Affairs and Homeland. According to the Bundestag’s website, Bubendorfer-Licht is a Catholic.
Little is known about their ecclesiastical and religious-political views. However, since taking over the post as spokeswoman for religious politics, she has spoken out on ecclesiastical and religious issues a few times on her Facebook page. Immediately after accession, she explained: “Religious communities are an important part of our society, and religious freedom is a valuable asset enshrined in the Constitution. Protecting this freedom and enabling tolerant and good coexistence between all religions in our society drives me. “
After the #OutInChurch campaign, in which 125 queer people from the Catholic Church, among others, came out and called for a change in the church’s employment legislation, the politician thanked the main characters “for their courage and courage” and expressed hope that this “the first step to a more tolerant church “. In addition, she reaffirmed the traffic light coalition’s goal of addressing “complaints” in church labor law. According to Bubendorfer-Licht, unjustified ecclesiastical privileges under labor law should be a thing of the past.
AfD: Beatrix von Storch
The AfD, which its parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel once described as “the only Christian party still in existence”, is the only parliamentary group that has not yet elected a religious-political spokesman. Instead, the topic, according to a spokesman, is currently being covered by parliamentary deputy group leader Beatrix von Storch. In the last parliamentary term, Volker Münz held office, but failed to re-enter parliament in the federal elections in September.
Von Storch is one of AfD’s most famous and most controversial faces. Again and again, the 50-year-old speaks up in parliament or on social networks with loud and provocative statements – also on topics from the church and religion area. The Protestant, who has already participated several times in the annual “March for Life” in Berlin and is strongly opposed to abortion, has, among other things, positioned himself in recent years in the debates on section 219a of the Penal Code, which regulates i.a. ban on advertising for abortions, but will probably soon be removed from the Traffic Light coalition abolished.
Von Storch also clashed repeatedly with the churches. She repeatedly countered criticism of the AfD from Protestant and Catholic officials with accusations against the churches. In 2019, she branded allegations from Kolpingselskabet against the party as an “incredible derailment”. She has also previously called for stopping church taxes.
Left: Petra Pau
Petra Pau is a political heavyweight in the left-wing faction: she is the longest-serving member of her party in the Bundestag, was deputy leader of the parliamentary group from 2000 to 2002 and again from 2005 to 2008 and has been one of the parliamentary groups. Vice-Presidents of the Left-wing Parliament since 2006 and is now one of the longest-serving members of the Bureau of the Bundestag. However, her position as spokeswoman for religious politics is new to her – in mid-January, she succeeded the longtime spokeswoman Christine Buchholz, who missed out on returning to the Bundestag in the September elections.
Pau, who claims to have left the Protestant Church in tenth grade, however, is not unfamiliar with the subject of religion. Among other things, she has campaigned against anti-Semitism for many years and regularly makes inquiries about anti-Semitic crimes in, for example, the Bundestag. Outside Parliament, the native Berlin is a member of the board of the German Coordinating Council of the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation and of the board of the Heinz Galinski Foundation set up by the Jewish community in Berlin, dedicated to promoting religion, tolerance, education and the idea. on international understanding.
Pau has an ambivalent relationship with the churches. On the one hand, the politician encouraged former churches to become more politically involved (“I would like to see churches that, from their humanistic roots, become much more socially and audibly involved”). On the other hand, in 2008/2009 she came into sharp conflict with representatives of the Catholic Church, which campaigned for the upgrading of religious education in Berlin’s schools as part of the “Pro Reli” initiative. Pau at the time accused church representatives of a “crusade” and “attack instead of enlightenment”.
By Steffen Zimmerman