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Le débat autour de l’instruction religieuse en Brandebourg et à Berlin

After the fall of the Berlin wall, all the new Länder except Brandenburg and Berlin reintroduced religious education in the curriculum as a regular teaching subject. Based on the Bremen clause, the Land of Brandenburg introduced a new subject, the LER (Lebensgestaltung–Ethik–Religionskunde / life-ethic-religion) in the Law on public teaching (including § 9 and § 11) instead of religious education. The LER consists in moral teaching but also in the objective presentation of all the main religions. It is a regular and compulsory subject but parents or legal tutors are allowed to ask for their child to be exempted from such lessons provided "they have a good reason for it" § 141). At first, the Law allowed the religious communities to present these lessons in the facilities of public schools apart from the normal school hours.
Though the percentage of people belonging to a Church was merely of 24% in the new Länder in 1994, this regulation was the object of many debates and led to a long juridical litigation. In last instance, the Constitutional Court suggested a judiciary compromise maintaining the LER, with the obligation for the Land of Brandenburg to co-finance religions lessons and to integrate them into the normal school hours. While the new Law on public teaching in Brandenburg of 2002 eventually covered all these elements, a new appeal was brought before the Constitutional Court but was eventually rejected in January 2004 (BVerfG, 1 BvR 1406/02 of January 8 2004).
Berlin East adopted the regulation in force in the West, in which religious education is not part of the regular subjects but all the communities recognised by the Land in a position to present such lessons and having a minimum of pupils are allowed to present two hours of religious education a week in school facilities and during the normal school hours. The parents or legal tutors decide for their child to follow such lessons or not (Berlin Law on public teaching , §13 Schulgesetz).
After a long period of debates, it was decided that pupils in classes 7 to 10 have to attend a secular teaching of moral education (Ethik) since the beginning of the school year 2006-2007 even if they already follow religious lessons.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the liberal party (FDP) and some parents of Berliner pupils had claimed for the children to have the right to choose between the secular teaching of moral education and religious lessons, a claim which was rejected by the Senate (Parliament of the Land of Berlin) and a constitutional appeal against the introduction of the secular teaching as a regular and compulsory subject was rejected by the Constitutional Court in July 2006 ( BVerfG, 1 BvR 1017/06 of July 14 2006, § 1 – 29).

HECKEL, Martin, Religionsunterricht in Brandenburg. Zur Regelung des Religionsunterrichtes und des Faches Lebensgestaltung - Ethik - Religionskunde (LER). Berlin : Duncker & Humblot, 1998. LOTT, Jürgen, Wie hast du’s mit der Religion ? Das neue Schulfach Lebensgestaltung –Ethik-Religionskunde (LER) und die Werteerziehung in der Schule. Gütersloh : Gütersloher Verlag-Haus, 1998.

D 19 juillet 2012    AMatthias Koenig AMiriam Schader

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