Germany: Constitutional Court upholds religious and contractual freedom

47154262In a landmark judgment that was issued today, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has upheld the right of churches and other religious institutions to request their employees to abide by their religious and moral ethos. The case concerned a doctor working at a church-owned hospital who was fired after he got divorced.

While one can question the outcome in casu, the decision does have the merit of strengthening the corporative religious freedom of churches (which, as the Court stated, applies without any reservations) as well as the freedom of contract (which is not unimportant in the context of the EU’s controversial “Anti-Discrimination Directive).

It is also interesting that the Court considered that this judgment is conform to the standards set by the European Convention on Human Rights, even though the ECtHR had decided otherwise in the case of a church organist who had been sacked following his divorce.