The new church and religion representative of the FDP parliamentary group, Dr. Stefan Ruppert, has in the this site interview demands – also from his own party – to abolish the church tax, clearly rejected. Ruppert: "I am a supporter of the church tax, also in the existing form and insofar there will be no initiatives in this legislative period to change that."
this site: It was not always the case that the Free Democrats looked positively on religious communities in Germany. There were times when FDP party platforms even called for the abolition of religious instruction in schools. That is different now?
Ruppert: Yes, that was a long time ago. Those were our wild 70s, so to speak. In the meantime, our relationship has become much more positive, and of course I'm happy about the process, even as a committed Christian.
this site: In your opinion, how has the relationship between the Church and the Free Democrats fundamentally changed??
Ruppert: I think the free democrats have recognized or noticed that a state cannot exist well without a value orientation or also a tie back to conviction and faith. That was a process that lasted several years, and now we have more Christians in our parliamentary group than ever before.
this site: For example, the Federal Minister of Health Rosler, who is even in the ZdK. The abolition of church taxes has always been one of the FDP's demands. Just last year, one of your party colleagues from Baden-Wurttemberg called for replacing the church tax with a social levy. What is your position on this??
Ruppert: It has marked that as a private expression of opinion and I must say, I am a supporter of the church tax also in the existing form. In this respect, there will be no initiatives in this legislative period to change that, I am firmly convinced of that.
this site: This week, the Federal Constitutional Court declared store opening hours on the four Sundays of Advent in Berlin unconstitutional. Welcome this verdict?
Ruppert: I expressly welcome it! I believe that we should not leave room for a complete economization of society. That doesn't mean we shouldn't uphold free-market principles, we certainly should, because they make prosperity possible. But we also have to give ourselves space and time to pause for a moment, to have family discussions, and perhaps also to let a bit of calm return. This judgment is a good indication and a good signal for this.
this site: Much is discussed at present again about the Islam. Switzerland's neighbors have passed a ban on minarets by referendum. How do you think we can better integrate Muslims in Germany??
Ruppert: I regret this decision in Switzerland. We do have to take fears of the population very seriously, but Pope Benedict XVI. has found the right words when he said that this decision threatens our religious freedom as a whole. I believe it will be important to continue on the path of dialogue that we have embarked upon, for example the "Islam Conference", because our Muslim fellow citizens are an important part of our society. The dialogue must be strengthened and continued.
this site: Does her opinion stand for the majority of your faction?
Ruppert: We have formed a group of Christians in the FDP parliamentary group, and that is the strongest subgroup in our party, Catholics and Protestants. As we notice at all that especially in classical Catholic milieus, e.g., in the Protestant milieus, there are no initiatives in the Protestant milieus.B. To me in the constituency near Limburg, people voted very strongly also FDP. We are very pleased about that, and we also want to continue that and strengthen the dialogue. The interview was conducted by Stephanie Gebert.
Personally: The 38-year-old lawyer Stefan Ruppert has been elected to the Bundestag via the Hessian state list. Ruppert is a Protestant and in 2001 he wrote about the relationship between church and state in the 19th century. Doctorate in the twenty-first century. Subsequently, he was a research associate at the German Federal Prison Court. Since 2005, he has headed a research group at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of the Church.Ruppert is married and lives with his wife in Oberursel, near Frankfurt. He is friends with his predecessor in the constituency, Wolfgang Gerhardt, and his political foster son. He has been a member of the FDP since 1990 and chairman of the Liberals in the Hochtaunus district since March 2000. In the Bundestag, Ruppert represents the FDP on the Interior Committee and as a deputy member of the Legal, European and Election Review Committees. He replaces Hans-Michael Goldmann, a Catholic from Lower Saxony, as his parliamentary group's spokesman on church policy.