Ursula and Prof. Dr. Johannes Neumann received the Erwin Fischer Award
The festivity took place on October 14, 2000 in Rossdorf, Germany. The newspapers had informed about the planned festivity. The Alibri Publishing House offered books on subjects concerning churches, civil rights etc. One of the guests was Lee Traynor, an editor of Sceptic Literature, who offered books too.
After Michael Lewandowski had opened the festivity with a guitar solo Rudolf Ladwig, vice chairman of IBKA, greeted the guests, the laudator Professor Edgar Baeger and above all the two prize holders, Ursula Neumann and Professor Johannes Neumann. First, Rudolf Ladwig honoured Erwin Fischer, after whom the award was named and who died in 1996. He read out a salutation of Erwin Fischer's former colleagues. They were unable to attend at the festivity but they were delighted that the Neumanns were the first to get the prize: "Again and again Erwin quoted Mrs. and Mr. Neumann, he was very fond of them. Without any doubt he would be very glad that they get the prize." After Rudolf Ladwig had finished Professor Edgar Baeger held his laudatory. He talked about Erwin Fischer who fought idealistically for his clients and for the society. The Neumanns continued Fischer's work for the constitutional right of religious freedom, especially with their civil case against the subject "ethics".
Professor Baeger explained why the case against this subject is necessary. All religious societies are interested to teach at school. The subject "Ethics" had been introduced because the churches had wanted this. Pupils who did not attend the subject "Religion" (the subject "Catholic Religion" or "Protestant Religion" is taught by teachers who must have a special permission from the church) were not obliged to stay at school during this time. Therefore the churches had the subject "Ethics" introduced. Now the pupils, who didn't attend the subject "Religion" were obliged to attend "Ethics". But the subject "Religion" is voluntary, the subject "Ethics" is not. Professor Baeger sharply attacked the laws, that were introduced to bother those who weren't interested in the subject "Religion". Professor Baeger honoured the Neumanns because they had taken their case to court in order to achieve religious freedom at German schools. Baeger critized that the courts refused to decide on the relationship of state and church "as the devil (invented by theologists) refuses the contact with holy water (also invented by theologists)." At last Professor Baeger confirmed his opinion that the organized christianity will loose in the end.
After the laudatory the two award winners got a medal with the portrait of Erwin Fischer, a document and, of cause, a bunch of flowers, from the chairmen of the board of IBKA, René Hartmann and Rudolf Ladwig. After this, the Neumanns held very interesting speeches.
Professor Neumann spoke about Erwin Fischer's struggle against the patronizing of men and women in the name of religion. Afterwards he spoke about recent developments in the German law system. He talked about five civil cases concerning state and church. First there are the cases against the subject "Ethics", which show, that the right of the state blocks the constitutional rights of the citizens. Neumann saw the struggle of Jehova's Witnesses who wanted to be recognized as a corporation under public law as an unequal treatment of the different religions. The German Federal Administrative Tribunal requires an examination of their loyalty to the German legal system but there is no article in the German Basic Law on which this could be based. Neumann's third process were the "Crucifix judgements". The Constitutional Court had declared that crucifixes in class rooms were illegal if a protected minority did not want to have them but the Bavarian government did not want to accept this decision and this was a clear breach of the constitution. Regarding the process of islamic religious education Neumann declared that only a compulsory objective philosophic education would make sense. If there are different religious educations at school there will not grow a fellow-feeling of the pupils and they will be divided in several ghettos at school. At last Neumann explained the courts' decisions concerning the recognition of certifications issued by the Berlin Humanists. The courts at Berlin accepted only certifications issued by churches or religious organisations but not from philosophic organisations because they disliked all that did not come from the churches. The Federal Finance Court at Munich put an end to this perversion of justice.
Following her husband the second award-winner, the psychologist Ursula Neumann spoke about the subject "How to become a good outsider? Tips of an insider". She described the experiences she had made as a citizen of a village dominated by catholics. She was told that her fight against crucifixes in classrooms had dragged the village through the mud. Therefore Ursula Neumann put up several rules for outsiders. It may be irrational to fear the gossip but this fear exists. But whoever is silent because of this fear loses his/her self-respect. The own fight is an act of solidarity with those who are in a weaker position. Ursula Neumann presented some examples from christian life. Next rule: the other party is at least as afraid as oneself. And outsiders need other outsiders to be able to stay outsiders. As a result of her own experience with the school subject "Ethics" Ursula Neumann put up another rule: A defeat is like an accident. The highest priority must be to take care of the victims. But the psychologist critized those who spend most of their time with the subject "church" because she had learned that this part of life had only a very restricted importance. She was very much more in fear of the megalomania of genetic scientists and an exaggerated youthfulness as these were ideological stupidities, too and therefore tasks for non-religious people.
She and her husband earned much applause for their speeches which are published by IBKA.