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Some key dates

German antiquity

3rd C. -: Germans are evangelised following their incorporation into the Roman Empire (little continuity apart from the establishment of the Episcopal seat in Trier)
555: The religious peace of Augsburg establishes the parity between catholicism and lutheranism

Medieval times

7th C. -: St. Boniface, the "Apostle of Germany", establishes an organisation of dioceses modelled after the one in Rome which partly remains to this day. A dense network of monasteries is formed
800: Charlemagne is crowned as Emperor. Church – State relations are governed by feudal law
1075-1122: Ordination conflict – the Emperor and the Pope clash over the ordination of bishops
1122: Concordat of Worms – the separation of the temporal and spiritual does not resolve the conflicts between the Papacy and the Empire. The Papacy eventually prevails and acquires the right to reject the king chosen by the prince electors
1347: the Black Plague strikes leading to the persecution of Jews and destruction of most of their communities in Germany
1356: the Golden Bull - the voting rights of the prince electors are free from Papal control
1415: Inquisition against the Hussites - J. Hus, representative of the Hussites is condemned by the Council of Constance and burnt at the stake

Reformation and the faith era

1517: The Wittenberg Theses - 95 theses written by Martin Luther spark a debate within the Church and then cause political conflicts
1555: The Peace of Ausburg - Princes are free to choose the religion (whether Lutheran or Catholic) of their territories (cuius regio eius religio). Religions are divided along political lines
1618-1648: The Thirty Years’ War between the Catholic League and the Protestant Union
1648: Treaty of Westphalia - the Peace of Ausburg is reaffirmed

Absolutism, Enlightenment and the 19th century

1663-1806: The Immerwährender Reichstag ("permanent Imperial Diet") of Ratisbon – the peaceful co-existence among the religions is guaranteed
Absolutism – The Church is increasingly controlled by the Court. State Churches are formed
1803: Reichsdeputationshauptschluss - "secularisation" of ecclesiastical properties and redistribution of territories. The practice of two religions within the same political group begins. Jews acquire the right to German citizenship
1817: Union between the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Prussia. The State’s powers are strengthened as a result
1871: Unification of Germany under Prussian rule - interfaith conflict (Kulturkampf) intensifies. Protestantism joins forces with German nationalism and imperialism

The Weimar Republic

1919: The Weimar Constitution: separation of the Church and the State and recognition of the individual’s freedom of belief and equality of religions. Former State Churches are granted the special status of public corporations

The National - Socialist regime

1933: Ecclesiastical Constitution: Protestant Churches are reorganised by the Nazi regime. Concordat with the Vatican
1934: A minority opposition (Bekennende Kirche) is formed within the German Protestant Church, which influences post-war Protestantism
1939: Anti-church activities are carried out under the pretext of wartime necessity - foldup of the ecclesiastical press, forced closure of monasteries and break up of religious associations

Post-war era

May 1945 : surrender of the Nazi Germany and end of the Second World War
1949: partition of Germany in two different States (Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic)
. In the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the relevant provisions of the Weimar Constitution are maintained in the Basic Law. The reformed and united Lutheran Churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church play an important role in legitimising the nascent democracy and integrating the citizenry
. In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), secularist policy and control of the Church are pursued. Ecclesiastical articles are revoked in the 1968 Constitution
13 August 1961: construction of the Berlin wall

Re-united Germany

9 November 1989: fall of the Berlin wall
1989: Reunification - the GDR and the FRG are reunified. New Länder are created which adopt constitutions consistent with the Basic Law and its ecclesiastical articles. The Protestant Churches in East Germany are re-incorporated into the EKD while the Catholic dioceses rejoin the Episcopal Conference of Germany.
3 October 1990: German reunification
1999/2000: vote and coming into force of the new nationality code, introducing elements of territorial principle
September 2003 : judgment of the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe stating that the headscarf falls under the protection of individual religious freedom, and that a ban is possible only on a legislative basis in each Land
2004-2006 : laws banning the Islamic headscarf for teachers at school voted in Baden-Württemberg, Saarland, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen and Berlin (the Berlin Neutrality Act of January 2005 prohibits all religious signs without exception for all public servants)
2006 : creation of the German Islam Conference (DIK)
2008 : decision of the German Islam Conference to introduce Islamic religious education in public schools
2015 : new judgment of the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe stipulating that a comprehensive ban on headscarves for Muslim teachers represents an infringement of the principle of religious freedom. A prohibition remains possible if the headscarf significantly disrupts academic peace or threatens the neutrality of the State.

D 6 January 2016    ASylvie Toscer-Angot

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