The German Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, Claudia Roth of the Green Party, considers Bible quotations on the Berlin Palace to be inappropriate, because they are not cosmopolitan.
Around the dome of the Berlin Palace, there is a bible verse, in golden letters against a blue background:
“Under heaven, no other name is given but that of Jesus, before whom every knee will bow.”
Roth says the inscription “is perceived as a claim of a dominant culture”.
Roth has presented plans for an “art project for the temporary superimposition of the reconstructed inscription with alternative, commenting and reflective texts” to represent the multicultural nature of the museum beneath.
“The inscription will be preserved, it will only be made clear that the Humboldt Forum is critical of this statement,” she said.
The changes would address a “politically and religiously interpretable restoration of the monarchical and Christian symbolism on the building.”
The state-run “Humboldt Forum Foundation in the Berlin Palace” placed a plaque next to the dome on the roof terrace with this text: “All institutions in the Humboldt Forum expressly distance themselves from Christianity’s claim to sole validity and sovereignty, which the inscription expresses.”
The quotations from the Bible were selected by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795-1861) and reconstructed on the dome in 2020.
One quote reads: “There is salvation in no other (…) than in the name of Jesus, to the glory of God the Father. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, which are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Critics say the verses from the Bible exclude other religions.
Christianity Made Germany
The row has sparked heated debate online that Christianity is being curtailed in Germany.
The quotes as such do not imply a “claim to power of Christianity”. They come from Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Philippians 2:6-11). He called for kneeling only before Christ and not before the Roman Emperor.
In an interview with the BZ, the Catholic Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch said that the Bible verses are still to be understood today, namely “that people should only bow before God and should not show this honor to any earthly power”.