Retired German judge: State cannot do without religion


Central Europe


Paul Kirchhof. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The German Constitution contains elements of classical Christianity. People need answers they can never find through logical reasoning alone. Therefore, former constitutional lawyer, Paul Kirchhof from Germany, argues that a state cannot exist without religion.

Cultural-historical insights prove that religion is a necessary ingredient for the existence of a nation-state, Kirchhof says to Die Tagespost. He argues that people are looking for legal justifications that go beyond reason and logic.


Modern Western societies, such as Germany, design their constitutions to be ideologically neutral. Yet, they cannot ban all religious elements from people's lives, Kirchhof argues. For example, he mentions the first sentence of the Basic Law: "Human dignity is inviolable." These words are based on the idea of early Christianity that if man has the possibility to encounter God and strives to come close to this ideal of perfection, that is the "most radical principle of freedom of legal history."

Europe and Germany are currently at a low point regarding religion, Kirchhof admits. At the same time, he emphasises that free societies need people with standards such as "ethos and morality so that this freedom does not become arbitrary." Thus, successful people who are free to decide about their own lives are increasingly aware that they need points of reference and certainty, as well as reason that transcends their own ego, he says.

Therefore, he pleads for a vision that reason and faith do not oppose each other but as "rules that limit and promote each other. That is a basic idea that still moves us a lot today."



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