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German Governor: 'The Cross Is a Fundamental Symbol of our Identity and Christian Values'


The governor of Germany's largest state has ordered crosses to be hung at the entrances of all its government buildings.

Premier Markus Söder says the cross symbolizes Bavaria's strong Christian heritage and should be on public display.

"The cross is a fundamental symbol of our Bavarian identity and way of life," Mr. Söder said in a statement. "It stands for elemental values such as charity, human dignity, and tolerance."

Bavaria is a majority Christian state located in the southern part of Germany. Most Bavarians are Catholic.

Söder, who recently became the state's leader, placed a cross in the lobby of the chancellery in Munich this week as one of his first acts in office.

He said the move is a "clear avowal of our Bavaria identity and Christian values" and in no way violates the state's constitutional rules governing religion.

Opponents quickly pounced on the decision, claiming it's a violation of Germany's neutrality laws and that the move unnecessarily causes division in the state.

"Why can the CSU {Christian Social Union party) never think of anything that brings people together, instead of trying to divide the country at every level?" asked Jan Korte, a German parliamentarian. "Söder's unconstitutional crucifix decree is not just the clumsiest election campaigning, but also exploitation of religion for personal reasons."

Crosses are already mandatory in public schools and courtrooms in Bavaria.

Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, a prominent German Christian leader, welcomed the cross directive but encouraged Bavarians to understand the powerful message behind the cross and the price Jesus Christ paid for humanity.

"This stands for human dignity, stands for charity, stands for humanity," Strohm told a Bavarian public TV state. "If we take that seriously, then we stand on the side of those who are vulnerable."

Under Söder's directive, the crosses can only be hung in the entrances of state buildings in Bavaria and not local or federal buildings.

The order to place the crosses takes effect June 1.

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