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In Germany, it is illegal to poke fun at religion on holy days

In Germany, it is illegal to poke fun at religion on holy days

Not a lot of people know this, but every Germany state has ‘holiday laws’ that prevent people from partying – or showing films that are not approved by the state – on religious holidays.

That such silly laws still exist came to the world’s attention when Martin Budich, above, the organiser of a group called Religious Freedom in the Ruhr, decided to publicly screen Monty Python’s 1979 comedy classic Life of Brian on Good Friday in the western city of Bochum.

That screening, according to The Local, took place for the first time three years ago. A few dozen people turned up to watch the film which pokes fun at the biblical story of the Messiah. Budich repeated the screening on subsequent Good Fridays, and each year his audience grew. The “very naughty boy” said:

This year we hired out the biggest club in Bochum and after half an hour we had around 400 people watching. Next year it will be bigger still – and more provocative.


“Provocative” is the operative word. After the first screening, Budich found himself at odds with the law and was fined 100 euros for the simple act of showing a film which is rated suitable for children in most countries.

After the High Court in North Rhine-Westphalia upheld a ruling from a lower court that imposed the fine on Budich, it was reported that Budich is to appeal the decision in the Federal Constitutional Court, which will now have to consider whether the prohibition of showing the movie was in breach of his constitutional rights.

The 66-year-old told The Local that, when it comes to the relationship between Church and State, Germany sometimes feels:

A bit more like Saudi Arabia than other countries that went through the Enlightenment. That non-Christians in Germany are told that they are not allowed to have fun on Christian holidays is pretty notable.

He added adding that the “holiday laws” are:

Just the tip of the iceberg. Nowhere [in Europe] is the Church so privileged as it is here.

And he citing the examples of the state collecting taxes on behalf of the Church and the obligation for state schools to provide religious education classes.

So while he sees his Life of Brian protest as a means of helping the people of Bochum to watch whatever films they want, when they want and how they want, he also hopes it will help folk in Berlin dance the night away and perhaps eventually lead to an end to Church privileges.

The film itself he sees as a perfect analogy for this struggle.

Life of Brian is against dogmatism. It is against unquestioning obedience to leadership. The Catholic Church is sexist, dogmatic and authoritarian. [But] Germany recognises the Vatican as a state even though it is a dictatorship in the classical sense of the word.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

12 responses to “In Germany, it is illegal to poke fun at religion on holy days”

  1. Badger says:

    Germany – The religion is Roman Catholic. In WW2 Germany, the RCC was essentially the religious arm of the Nazi War Machine. Hence the current sensitivity of the RCC in Germany to ridicule and criticism. Germany has, with great effort and humility, mostly cast off the stigma of WW2 … all except for the RCC bit. Beats me why Germany is still got its testicles gripped in the papal clenched fist.No doubt there is a Concordat at the bottom of it. Well I say Concordats are illegal instruments of papal control over the governments of countries. They should be shredded and incinerated by those governments with the same degree of contempt as exhibited by the RCC when they were drwan up and implemented.

  2. Stephen Mynett says:

    Germany is a strange place at times, they are very liberal on most issues but also have some illogical laws, such as this one and Holocaust denial. I think their problem is that they go too far in trying to appease for Nazi era atrocities, hence the ban on free speech about the Holocaust – they should just accept the fact it happened and then ridicule the morons who try to say otherwise. It is an odious opinion but the world is full of odious opinions.
    One thing that probably should have been noted in the article is that although everyone initially has to pay church tax they can opt out of it.

  3. L.Long says:

    Well with the large influx of muslin immigrants this may start things against the RCC. Nothing like too religious cults butting heads.

  4. Laura Roberts says:

    That’s a bit like the American National Day of Prayer. Happily there is now a growing movement for a National Day of Reason, scheduled for the same day as an alternative. I often thought it would be fun (if arguably less productive) to launch a National Day of Blasphemy, a celebration of free speech, scheduled for the day after the prayer thing.

  5. Stephen Mynett says:

    These days atheists are the largest group in Germany and catholics only just outnumber the protestants: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Germany

    There is already a blasphemy day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_Day

  6. barriejohn says:

    And we have bishops sitting ex officio in the House of Lords.

    Laura: International Blasphemy Day is on 30th September this year – we can all fuck Jehovah to our heart’s content then, because if he exists he has well and truly fucked all of us!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_Day

  7. John says:

    Germany is still somewhat of an odd place.
    Recent revelations about the former (still-living) Pope’s brother’s abuse of young boy choristers over decades has led to numbers of Germans disaffiliating from the Roman and Lutheran cults in Germany, thereby exempting themselves from the legal requirement to pay church taxes.
    Hitler paid church tax to the Roman cult right up until the moment he blew his brains out in the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin in 1945. From memory, Goebbels, Goering and Himmler paid church taxes to the Lutheran cult too.
    We tend to think of Germany as a modern progressive country but – truth to tell – in many ways they remain very much behind an integrated society like Britain.
    Not that Britain is too fantastic either!

  8. Newspaniard says:

    Living in Germany, this guy has got to watch out for the legislation coming down the line from the EU Central Presidium: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8189/social-media-censorship.

    And, @Daz, before you start about the “lying of the Gatestone Institute”, which I suspect, you invented, each of the items are written by different authors. Are you calling all of them liars?

  9. Cali Ron says:

    Newspaniard: No worries. I will gladly tell you that the institute is a right wing extremist group spreading fear and hate. Any organization that has a blithering idiot like John Bolton as it’s ambassador should not be taken seriously.

  10. Newspaniard says:

    Right and left are relative terms. From both wings, those who don’t believe in democracy are fascists in its truer form, take the UAF and hope-not-hate as outstanding examples of rampant fascism.

  11. Brian Jordan says:

    @L.Long
    “Well with the large influx of muslin immigrants this may start things against the RCC. Nothing like too religious cults butting heads.”
    More likely films will be banned on Muslim holy days too.