Which is more important for the family: marriage or Sunday-closing laws? The answer is clear for the Protestant church in Germany: Marriage is not to be considered a “presupposition” for family, but Sunday-closing laws are “indispensable” for families. Such are the conclusions of Between Autonomy and Dependence: Strengthening Family as a Reliable Community , a study released in June by the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, the federation of regional Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches that includes almost all German Protestants.

The initial idea would appear to have been a primarily social policy study of how the Church can help families respond to contemporary pressures on family life: more families where both parents must work to provide the desired income, a growing number of single-parent households, shrinking time for family life. The EKD is one of the largest social-service providers in Germany and does much work with families under stress.

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