Left sees itself as defender of freedom of belief for all

Left sees itself as defender of freedom of belief for all

Today the Left Party wants to adopt its program for the federal elections. This is also about religion, church and religious coexistence.

Tightly printed and peppered with exclamation points: The Left Party's draft for the Bundestag elections in September is 100 pages long. In it, the strongest opposition party in the legislative period that is coming to an end relies primarily on redistribution – more aid for the socially weak, more burdens for the supposedly strong. A tax on the rich, a minimum income of 1.050 euros, a higher minimum wage of 12 euros and capped rents are just some of the demands to be adopted at the party conference in Hanover this weekend. The churches and religions are also mentioned in the theses.

As with the Greens, the election campaign is being run by two leading candidates: Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch. While the 47-year-old Wagenknecht represents the left wing of the party, her 59-year-old comrade-in-arms Bartsch is counted among the moderate, reform-oriented party wing.

"Do not have to migrate"?

In its main motion, the party affirms: "We want to fight the causes of flight, not the refugees!"At the center is the right "not to have to migrate". In addition, the Left opposes a limit ("Human rights know no upper limit") and pleads for a fair integration of refugees and asylum seekers into the labor market.

Also, in view of the multitude of crises and conflicts worldwide, there should be no more arms exports. The party goes further and calls for a halt to arms production in Germany.

Independent state

This is also where churches come into play for the Left. "We want to work with social partners from trade unions, churches, the peace movement to develop conversion programs for employees in the arms industry in order to create new jobs," reads the draft of the leading motion.

Churches and the topic of religion are also mentioned in other places – and several times at that. "The state must be independent vis-à-vis religions and protect people who are persecuted on ideological or religious grounds," the bill states.

Replacement of state benefits

The party affirms an "institutional separation of state and church" and a replacement of state payments – compensation payments by the state for asset losses of the churches due to the Reformation and the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss – to the churches. The churches should also collect their membership fees independently. At present, church tax is collected by the state, which receives around three percent of the revenue for this purpose.

From the party's point of view, resignations from religious communities and churches must be free of charge, and converts should receive counseling and help. Religiously motivated clothing must not be banned, it says. Furthermore, Jewish and Muslim holidays should also be recognized as state-protected holidays.

Criticism of pastoral care

The Left criticizes the fact that there is no right to strike for employees in the church, diaconia and Caritas. The relevant paragraph in the Works Progress Act should be deleted, he said. The General Equal Treatment Act must also be applied in church institutions. This is directed against the currently practiced "third way": according to this, employers and employees form a service community in which all have a share in the religious mission of the church.

The Left Party is critical of the Catholic and Protestant military chaplaincies. "The existing form of military chaplaincy does not correspond to the constitutionally given right to freedom of religion and is also controversial within the churches," writes the Left Party. Here, as a substitute, a treaty is needed that guarantees religious care for "all religious and ideological communities and the free exercise of religion by members of the Bundeswehr".

Freedom of thought, conscience and faith

Basically, the left wants to make policy against a "supposed 'clash of civilizations'". Anti-Muslim racism under the guise of criticism of Islam, for example, is unacceptable.

At the same time, the party reiterates that it fundamentally rejects radicalized movements. These put prere on believers and non-believers alike. "We defend freedom of thought, conscience and belief," the draft states.

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