Court Nixes Suit Brought on Behalf of Jesus
By Sue Masterman
B E R L I N, May 30 - Jesus lives.
A German court has nixed a suit brought on behalf of Christ by angry "Universal Life" sect members - because the Savior can defend himself.
Two ex-priests and a former religion teacher, all members of the sect, sought to prevent Bavarian churches from calling themselves "Christian."
They had tried before, and failed, to make the arch-conservative Christian Social Union, the dominant party in Bavaria, to axe the "Christian" part of its name.
In a tongue-in-cheek verdict, the normally staid Bavarian Constitutional Court - located in staunchly Roman Catholic Munich - threw out the case.
Attacking the Churches
Lawyer Christian Sailer, representing the three, told the court that his clients were incensed by the way "so-called Christian churches" were approving wars and even holding ceremonies to bless the weapons used.
Jesus, he said, would have never approved.
He also waxed lyrical about the past of the churches, including the burning of witches, the persecution of Jews and the executions of heretics.
"It is a system of murder and blood that has slaughtered more people, destroyed more culture than any war or any scourge," he told the bench. "And all this in the name of God and Jesus Christ."
Defense attorneys Martin Habdank, representing the Evangelical-Lutheran Church and Hans-Georg Neumeier, representing the Archbishopric of Munich, countered that "those times are fortunately past."
"'Christian' is not a kind of trademark," they warned.
'Brothers in Spirit'
The disgruntled trio based their case on a German law allowing people to defend the reputation of dead relatives. They were, they said, "brothers in spirit" of Jesus Christ, and thus had the right to defend him in court.
Because the Bible says "Who performs God's will is my brother, my sister and my mother," they are close relatives of Christ, and thus qualified to litigate on His behalf, they argued.
Presiding Judge Volker Berberich told the trio to go away and privately sort out its problems with the Church.
Germany's Constitution forbids courts from interfering in church affairs, he ruled.
The Big Flaw
He also pointed out a fundamental flaw in their "post-mortal personal protection" argument: If the trio believes Christ has risen from the dead, he mused, then, "Jesus is alive, and undoubtedly perfectly capable of defending Himself."
Sailer and his clients are now mulling over whether to take their case to the Federal Constitutional Court in Berlin, the only court in Germany that can overrule the Bavarian court.
* Origin: Il Vaticano * Lewisville, TX (1:124/9005.13)