Bavaria’s cross with the cross: cultural symbol or constitutional bone of contention?

Published On: 20.December.2023Categories: Legal2 min read
Avatar photo
Nora Wölflick writes about interesting, topical issues for the Love & Law Blog at Recht 24/7.

In April 2018, the Bavarian cabinet under Markus Söder made a decision that made waves far beyond the borders of Bavaria: A cross must hang in every state building. This decision, intended as an expression of Bavarian culture and history, sparked a heated debate. Critics saw it as an inadmissible encroachment on the religious neutrality of the state.

The ruling of the Federal Administrative Court: a victory for tradition?

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has now sent a clear signal: The crosses may stay. The judges dismissed the complaints against the decree, arguing that the hanging of the crosses should not be seen as an identification of the state with Christian beliefs, but rather as an expression of regional culture and history. This decision was celebrated by Markus Söder and other Bavarian politicians as a confirmation of their policy.

A question of perspective: cultural monument or violation of religious neutrality?

Despite the ruling of the Federal Administrative Court, the question remains: does the cross decree constitute a breach of the state’s duty of neutrality? While the judges emphasized the importance of the crosses as cultural symbols, critics such as the Bund für Geistesfreiheit see this as an inadmissible preference for one world view. They plan to appeal against the ruling to the Federal Constitutional Court to defend their point of view.


The ruling of the Federal Administrative Court may represent a provisional decision in the debate surrounding the Bavarian cross decree, but the discussion about the balance between cultural tradition and state neutrality in religious matters remains topical. While some see the cross as an indispensable part of Bavarian identity, others view it as a problematic step in the direction of mixing church and state. It’s an exciting topic that will continue to generate discussion.

Are you looking for representation in a legal dispute?