German coalition puts churches at a distance


Central Europe


Free Democratic Party (FDP) chairman and faction chairman in the German parliament Bundestag Christian Lindner, acting German Minister of Finance and Social Democratic Party (SPD) top candidate for the federal elections Olaf Scholz, Green party (Die Gruenen) co-chairwoman Annalena Baerbock, Green party (Die Gruenen) co-chairman Robert Habeck, Social Democratic Party (SPD) co-chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans and Social Democratic Party (SPD) co-chairwoman Saskia Eske pose for media after the presentation of the coalition contract in Berlin, Germany, 24 November 2021. Photo EPA, Clemens Bilan

Germany has a new coalition, the so-called Traffic Light combination. According to Christian sources in the country, it is clear that the cooperation with churches will be scaled down. Some even say this coalition is a step "on the way to an injustice state", because of the abortion policies.

The coalition is called after the party colours that are usually leading in German politics: Red (Social Democratic SPD), Green (for the Greens), Yellow (for the Liberal FDP). This new combination will form a government in the second week of December and replace the Black-Red government of CDU/CSU and SPD (usually called the Great Coalition).

The three parties have negotiated this agreement in less than two months after the elections on September 26th. The agreement title is “Dare to make progress: Alliance for Freedom, Justice and Sustainability.”

Cooperative separation

The coalition agreement speaks about the “model of cooperative separation” between state and church. Christian sources say this must be understood in the sense that churches are put at a distance. And the cooperation means especially that the coalition parties want to see “new, progressive” Muslim communities.

The Catholic news portal Katholisch.de for instance speaks about “an exciting legislative period”.

This does not mean that churches are not important for the coalition. On the contrary, the agreements say that “churches and religious communities are an important part of our society and make a valuable contribution to living together and communicating values in society. We appreciate and respect their work.”

From the plans and proposals, it is clear that the Christian Democratic CDU/CSU has disappeared from government, after 16 years under Chancellor Merkel. The churches will not have “an ally in the federal government who does not want to change anything big in the status quo”. Katholisch.de sees the effect of this in the plans around the protection of life. “Without the Union parties, the churches no longer have any allies in this field of politics.”

Advertising for abortion

The Traffic Light government will strike the ban on advertising for abortion. That section of the criminal code has been in discussion for some years already. And these secular parties see no reason to uphold this any longer.

Also, abortions will become part of regular medical training. Katholisch.de expects a “colder wind” for anti-abortion activists, for instance, those who demonstrate in front of the clinics. The government will take “effective legal measures” against that.

Idea points at plans for a commission of reproductive self-determination and reproductive medicine. This could result in a new abortion law outside of the penal code. This commission should also look into legalising egg donation and non-commercial surrogacy.

Injustice state

The organisation "Aktion Lebensrecht für Alle" (ALfA) speaks about a direction "on the way to an injustice state", because of the abortion plans. The pro-life organisation speaks about "prenatal infanticide", which could never be seen as a normal means of birth control, as Die Tagespost reports. “An act that can be advertised cannot possibly be illegal any longer.” According to ALfA, this is a "brutal attack" on the right to life.

The planned legal ban on demonstrations in front of abortion facilities, is strange, the organisation says. "If prenatal infanticide were legally legitimate and ethically beyond any doubt, then peaceful, registered demonstrations and dissenting opinions would not pose a problem for anyone, especially none that necessitated the curtailment of other fundamental rights such as the right to freedom of expression and assembly." This approach would better fit in a dictatorship, ALfA comments.


The new coalition does not propose a new policy around euthanasia. More than in other countries, this is an extremely sensitive topic in Germany due to the Hitler era. In the agreement, there is just one sentence about this: “We would be pleased if the issue of euthanasia is brought to a decision through timely cross-party motions.” In other words: the parliamentary groups are invited for initiatives.

Rainbow families will get more robust support in the government policies, as Pro Medienmagazin analyses. Several government departments will present a “national action plan for the acceptance and protection of sexual and gender diversity”, and the government will give money to support that.

The so-called conversion therapy, which is banned in Germany already, will get less protection in the coming period. Also, treatment for adults will be forbidden. The ban on blood donation for men who have sex with other men will be abolished.

The parties have also agreed that the use of cannabis must be legalised. Special shops may sell this to adults so that the quality can be controlled and minors can be protected.

Religious freedom

In the field of foreign politics, Katholish.de reports about concerns that the issue of religious freedom and the persecution of Christians gets less priority. For the present government, these points were vital.

Continuity is there in the position towards Israel. The country’s security has the highest priority, says the text. Threats against the country are unacceptable and will be condemned. “We stand up strongly against attempts at anti-Semitically motivated condemnations of Israel, also in the UN.”

On the other hand, Germany will stimulate peace based on the 1967 borders. Israel will be asked to “stop building settlements, which is contrary to international law.”

The new government still wants to fight antisemitism on its own territory. The special commissioner for this topic will remain in his position, as the Austrian Katholishe Presseagentur points out.



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