Article: Berlin Neutrality Law

Langer, A. (2022) "The Protestant Spirit of the Berlin Neutrality Law: An Old-New Kulturkampf against Religious Minorities in the Public Sphere." German Studies Review, 45(2), pp. 283-305. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/gsr.2022.0024



Berlin's neutrality law prohibits expressions of religious identities such as clothing in schools and other public realms. According to its wording, the law treats all religious communities equally. However, various religious systems regard the role of such expressions differently. While normative Islam and Judaism consider them of key importance, Protestant Christianity—which dominates Berlin's cultural and political history—rejects them. By tracing arguments concerning the Berlin neutrality law, the paper will raise the question: To what degree does the neutrality law resemble arguments that eighteenth- and nineteenth-century thinkers of the Enlightenment stressed as part of their critique of Judaism—and to what extent does the law reproduce the anti-Catholic discourse of the Protestant Kulturkampf in Prussia.