Penn State International Law Review


Lark E. Alloway

First Paragraph

On August 10, 1995, the German Constitutional Court struck down a Bavarian law which mandated that all state schools hang crucifixes in their classrooms. This decision is known popularly as the Crucifix Case. The Court found that the Bavarian law violated the Basic Law's provision in Article 4, which declares that "freedom of faith and conscience as well as freedom of creed, religious or ideological, are inviolable." A family of atheists brought this constitutional complaint and the Court held that the law violated the atheist students' guarantee of "religious freedom." School officials were subsequently ordered to remove the crucifixes from those classrooms occupied by the objecting students. The holding of the Constitutional Court in the Crucifix Case marked a major departure from what had been the acceptable contact between church and state in Germany. The United States has also reexamined the relationship between church and state. In Everson v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court began the process of defining the constitutionally proper relationship between education and the Establishment Clause. Since the Everson decision, the church-state relationship in education has been uncertain and regrettable. Has Germany started down the same path the United States did almost fifty years ago?