How does Christianity overlap with political conservatism?


"Germany needs a spirit of confidence," says EKD chairman Bedford-Strohm. “Stay in the church and pray,” says Marita, “Shut up, the church has to stay out of it, think about the burning of witches,” continues Heidemarie. Uschi cleverly combines the concerns: “The priests should PRAY and stay out of politics”.

The social climate is - to put it mildly - tense. There has long been no thought of dialogue and discussion; poisonous arrows are flying instead. There is also a lot going on in Christian communities and churches, because society is also reflected here.

On the one hand there are the countless volunteers who do small and large things to welcome arriving people, there are high-ranking church representatives who interfere in the political debate. Then of course there are also those who are more concerned about carrying food baskets. You may find the Church's statements a bit one-sided and would like to discuss your questions.

The right edge

But then there are also those who rebel loudly. They shoot sharply against the "meddling in politics", against "agitation against AfD", against the "left-winged EKD". It would be too short-sighted to blame only the current political situation for this. Even when the issue of refugees was still irrelevant, people took to the streets to loudly demonstrate against “homosexualization” and “gender gaga” in particular and against “political correctness” in general. Intersections of right attitudes have always existed in conservative Christianity.

The heated discourse these days only makes the rifts that have long run through the communities more visible. And it seems that some Christians are downright relieved to finally be able to say what one supposedly "is no longer allowed to say". Finally get rid of all prejudices that one has always harbored against Muslims, finally settle accounts with the left-wing politics of the federal government and above all with the church, which does not oppose the zeitgeist.

The political right occupies many of the issues on which conservative Christians feel left alone by the church and politics. Some willingly follow new political movements that take a stand against interfaith dialogue with Islam, against same-sex love, against abortion and against immigration. The fact that right-wing populism and xenophobia have long since spread behind the conservative facade in these movements - Pegida, AfD, let's call them the child - is at best ignored, at worst applauded.

On the Facebook page of theFederal Association of Christians in the AfD, These Christians speak up under posts on and elsewhere. Much of what can be found there is lacking in decency and often crosses the line to insult. The tone with which your own idea of ​​theright Christianity and the true Church is defended. In the following, the topics where conservatism and right-wing populism overlap are presented, each underpinned by exemplary comments. (Of course, there are also balanced, neutral and factual comments. The comments reproduced should be understood less as evidence than as illustrations.)

Subject: Islam

Rene, who warns the church against becoming "Islamist cocksuckers," may not see himself as a Christian. Nevertheless, like William or Rolf-Arno, he finds that the Church does too much for Muslims and too little for Christians. Almost all of the comments have in common the fear that Islam - evil - is prevalent in Germany.

Bedford-Strohm, he can feel sorry for you, feels this fear particularly clearly because he wants to participate in the board of trustees of the Munich Forum for Islam. The Tagesspiegel is dedicated to thisShitstorm from the churchan article (here).

The malice of Islam is justified with the terror of the IS, with ugly quotes from the Koran or the oppression of women. The question of how much Christian conservatism has done for equal rights for women remains to be seen.

But not the question of whether Christians in refugee homes are threatened by Muslims. A large number of reports (ZEITonline 2014, DIE WELT 2015, DIE WELT 2016) describe the ongoing discrimination against Christian refugees. Persecution of Christians is indeed a serious issue and both major churches are trying to alleviate the hardship through their international ministries.

Not enough, some think. They demand sharp condemnation and demarcation from Islam, which is held responsible for these acts. These critics show their commitmentFortheir persecuted fellow believers is less important than thatagainstIslam. And against the immigration of Muslim people.

Topic: refugee policy, the online offer of the Christian news agency idea "would like to contribute to giving the Christian message a higher priority in the media" (here). At the moment, however, the AfD and the criticism of the federal government's refugee policy (does the federal government have to change its refugee policy ?; AfD, AfD, AfD ...) are being given greater importance, the commentators are hot. Of course one can express criticism of the political action, but envy of the “well-shod” refugee, who is himself to blame for death if he illegally crosses the border because the federal government is “destroying the national state”, goes too far. And - in my opinion - bypassing the core issues of Christian faith: charity and mercy.

Topic: Church and Politics

Political statements by prominent representatives of the two large churches often lead to blanket criticism. Religion has to stay out of politics because church and state are separate. Church should not be politically active, only pastoral and praying. The criticism becomes particularly loud when the opinion of the church representatives does not match their own political convictions. This is particularly evident in critical comments on the AfD.

About the AfD

How contradicting the criticism of the church can be is shown in the last comment: "If the church representatives would finally stay out of politics, it would be a blessing for all of us". However, this only applies to some representatives: "The good priests I know are of the opinion of AfD and Pegida ...". Church representatives are therefore allowed to express themselves politically as long as it fits their own view of the world.

“Pastor Tscharnke, for example, is a good example. A fighter for the AfD! ”Says Simon. The pastor in the Evangelical Free Church in Riedlingen uses his sermons to warn of "invading robbery hordes" who are "from our wealth, from what we have painstakingly acquired". From the pulpit Tscharnke spreads - the good example - rumors about refugees who raid supermarkets or immigrate to Germany with bundles of money in their pockets, read here.

Jutta comments: “Thank you very much for your prayers for the AfD !! I'll do it too! "

About left and green

From the AfD, which brings "law and order back into our country", to the parties that are "responsible for the decline of Christian and social values", the "left-wing extremist old parties, including the CDU".

Again, the policy of these parties is of course up for debate. But the representation that the EKD or the DBK would pursue left-green party politics does not do justice to the diversity of these bodies. Liberal clergy and conservative theologians sit there. The assumption that high-ranking church representatives are guided only by party political interests denies them their own (theological, political) judgment.

Here lies the problem: reconciling voices are drowned out in the heated climate, but online media and commentators are looking for the greatest potential for outrage. Instead of thinking constructively about the role of the church in social discourse, (party) political disputes continue in church work.

What does that mean for the churches?

Stay in conversation and listen. Listen carefully and intervene when misanthropy is expressed. Explain why Christian belief and political activity are not mutually exclusive. Discuss what Christian ethics are to deal withStrangesays. This applies to every church member, from the regional bishop to the lay sister.

It seems as if the issue of refugees divides German politics and German society. As described above, however, I do not consider this to be the cause of the conflict, just the trigger. Rather, the line of conflict runs between people who are critical of social change and those who actively participate in it.

Not many who are concerned about social developments express themselves in the radicalism presented here. There must be room in the churches for these - actually - concerned Christians. If not, even more church members alienate themselves from “their” church and look for a new home and other guidance. How skilfully right-wing politicians ensnare homeless Christians is shown by the success of theDemo for everyone, in which the AfD is heavily involved. The contentious issue of homosexuality mobilizes evangelical and conservative Christians so that they willingly march behind the AfD banner. The fear of Islam lures frightened Christians to the Pegida movement, so that they willingly support dull nationalism. Also in the form of a black, red and gold cross.

The churches do not have to be afraid of this. On the contrary, right now the commitment to persecuted brothers and sisters in faith should be presented even more offensively, the advocacy of a solidary and helpful society should be justified even more passionately, the conversation with doubters should be conducted even more lovingly.

However, it must be made even clearer to those who practice inhuman slogans and nationalist politics that they must not refer to a common Christian culture in their arguments. This commonality does not exist.

  • On ZEITonline, Anne Hähnig analyzes the attitude of the Evangelical Church in Saxony on the topics of Pegida and homosexuality: here
  • In the F.A.S. Liane Bednarz describes the connection between evangelicals and the AfD: here
Keywords: AfD, I think of Germany ..., society, Islam, church, politics