“Deeply rooted in my faith”

The new commissioner for churches and religious communities of the SPD parliamentary group, Siegmund Ehrmann, welcomes the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on Sunday protection against the red-red Berlin Senate in an interview with this site. He sees his party at the side of the Christian churches at least since the Godesberg Party Congress of 1959.

this site: What does a member of parliament have to bring with him to be appointed by the parliamentary group as a representative for the churches and religious communities??
Ehrmann: I see myself as a Christian with political responsibility, and I myself have been shaped in this way, having worked for many years in the YMCA in my youth, and it was through this commitment that I first came into local politics. From there, I feel deeply rooted in my faith, in my church. Therefore I expressed also my interest that I would like to accompany gladly the contact also from my mandate to the churches. This has met with broad approval. In addition to my political mandate, I have held a number of honorary church offices for years; I am chairman of the supervisory board of a large diaconal organization, the Neukirchener Erziehungsverein, and a member of the district synod of the Moers church district. I am also on the supervisory board of the Evangelical Development Service EED. So there are many references that I perceive between politics and the church out of my faith and social responsibility.
this site: What is in store for you now in your function as representative for the churches??
Ehrmann: First of all, I am the first point of contact for the churches where the relationship between the state and politics and religious communities is concerned. That's why I'm looking for contact with the representatives of the various churches and religious communities. This will, of course, give rise to questions and problems, in a reciprocal direction. This is an open playing field, I don't want to set the topics now either. But there are some things that are definitely in the area. When I think about it on my own, of course the question of tax policy is also linked to questions of social justice. I don't want to make it party-political, but the common struggle for a dignified life in our society is our interest.
this site: There were times when the SPD was rather hostile to the church. How would you describe the relationship today?
Ehrmann: So this distance between the party and the churches has ended at the latest since the Godesberg Party Congress in 1959. Since that time, I have found many personalities who, as social democrats, are deeply rooted in the churches. I see a constancy there. It is a proper relationship and there are many personal links, and I also feel as an avowed Christian in my party a lot of openness and interest and an intensive exchange. There are z.B. a working group of Christians in the SPD, there are many references.
this site: An important ie between politics and churches at the moment is Sunday protection. In Berlin, the SPD has tried to expand the number of Sundays open for business. What is your position on this??
Ehrmann: I am grateful that the churches have decided to have this ie clarified by the courts, and I have read the Federal Constitutional Court ruling with great interest. I think what was decided there was really good, because the accents were very clearly set right. In addition, it reads very interesting in the reasoning of the judgment, how also the highest German jurisdiction defines and describes the state church law. In this respect, this is a Berlin peculiarity, that this almost limitless extension of the economy to Sundays was so forced by the Senate. That had to be clarified. The ruling gives a new platform, the states are now strongly challenged to consider and implement this decision in their store closing laws. I find this clarification good and welcome it.
this site: A week from today is Christmas Eve? How do you celebrate Christmas?
Ehrmann: I will celebrate at home on the Lower Rhine in Moers with my family, my wife, my daughter and her boyfriend. But also with my single mother-in-law and her cousin, two elderly ladies that is, and so we will first go to the church service and then celebrate Christmas.

The interview was conducted by Heike Sicconi.

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