By Scott Greer
Don’t expect to see Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or other Christmas decorations in one part of Berlin, Germany, even on private property, after officials in the Kreuzberg district banned the display of anything that celebrates the Christian holiday – because someone might be offended.
“Why should religious festivals be celebrated in public?” asked Social Democratic Party Councilor Martin Becker, according to the German news site MMNews.de.
The censorship was supported by the left-wing councilman as a response to demands by Muslims in the district that they be allowed to celebrate the end of Ramadan in the streets. Due to a fear of noise complaints, council officials decided that the best solution was to ban all religious festivals from being publicly celebrated in the district.
The ban includes decorations on private property if they could be seen by the public, according to reports. And the only exception reportedly will be a location the government would designate for a Christmas tree.
But other controversial events will still be allowed to take place in the area. According to an interview Becker gave to a local Berlin news outlet, “gay” and lesbian festivals will still be permitted to take place in Kreuzberg.
The measure also took away honorary awards for citizens based upon religious merit, as left-wing councilors saw no religious service as worthy of consideration.
Members of the center-right Christian Democratic Union, who currently are the largest party in the national parliament, and Christian leaders in Berlin have decried these developments as a revival of atheistic practices that were mandated by the communist regime of East Germany, according to a report published in Der Tagesspiel.
“I feel there’s a tendency towards irreligion in the district,” the CDU parliamentary leader, Goetz Mueller, stated to the Berlin news source.
Peter Storck, a local Protestant church leader, was even more critical in his response to the developments in Kreuzberg, which he sees as outright discrimination against religious individuals.
“State neutrality towards religion and the church should not be misunderstood as ‘freedom from religion,’ this requirement is rather a policy of totalitarian states,” Storck declared.
Kreuzberg is an area renown both for its counter-cultural reputation and as a prime destination for Turkish immigrants. A third of its population is composed of immigrants and the most popular political party in the district is the far-left Green Party.
This isn’t the first time that Christmas festivities have been banned by authorities.
WND has reported on numerous instances of schools and local municipalities banning the display of Christmas trees and not allowing Christmas caroling.
Joe Kovacs reported in 2002 of a first-grade teacher in Sacramento, Calif., who was banned from uttering the word “Christmas” in his classroom.
A school district in Pennsylvania also banned Christmas carols from being performed on school grounds in 2009 and some school districts have gone as far as to ban any display of Christmas symbols on their property, while allowing other religious symbols to be displayed.
But most of the bans in the U.S. have involved decorations that are on public property, such as a school or municipal building, and have not involved a ban on decorations on private property that can be viewed by the public.