Why do some churches preach politics

How political can the church be?

State election of Hesse

Benjamin SchröterState election in Hesse

The state election campaign in Hesse has reached its climax. On the net, on television, on the radio: the top candidates of the parties are almost omnipresent. And that's good. We citizens should know what the parties stand for. The church does not give election recommendations. Critics say - she does it anyway. "The church is slowly developing into a moral institute that expresses party-political preferences, also from the pulpit," said the writer Klaus Rüdiger Mai.

24.10.2018bs article: Download PDFPrintShareFeedback

Author: Benjamin Schröter

Category: News, Tolerance, Politics, Church President, Churches

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"Who should actually go to a Christmas mass voluntarily if at the end of the sermon they think they've spent an evening with the Jusos or the Green Youth?" on social media. The journalist vented his displeasure on Twitter with a sermon that he felt was tinged with party politics.

Klaus Rüdiger Mai: Church commits suicide for fear of death

With that he had said something that worries some people in Germany. In short: the church interferes too much in politics instead of taking care of its core business, faith. A number of commentators in daily newspapers then worked on the supposed commercialization, trivialization and politicization - especially of the Protestant Church.

The writer Klaus Rüdiger Mai wrote a whole book about it. He says, “The Church has a huge problem! It is secularizing itself primarily through party-political statements. ”The author sees the reason for this primarily in the church's fear of becoming meaningless. You could call it "suicide for fear of death," said Mai.

But should the church care about politics at all? The church president of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau says: “In a democratic society everyone is in the middle of political discourse. Even those who do not relate to a thing make a statement. The church must be keen to help ensure that people live justly and peacefully with one another. "

An alliance between the Chancellery and the Church?

Klaus Rüdiger Mai can also live with this general political commitment of the church. For him, the crux of the matter is that the church expresses itself politically - even if only between the lines. “The Protestant Church has clearly made party politics, especially in refugee policy. It could seem as if there was a political alliance between the Chancellery and the Church, ”says the writer. It is particularly fatal that the church also preaches party-political from the pulpit.

"Certain positions result from the biblical message"

Are party-political comments preached from the pulpits - trimmed with religious language? Admittedly, this is difficult to prove. Bad enough if some perceive it that way. Church President Jung says: “Of course, party-political preaching is not allowed from the pulpit. From the biblical message, however, one must also talk about social conditions. ”It could of course be that this view of society is also shared by political parties, or even to be found in party programs. "In my opinion, it must be recognizable that people are not talking this way because this or that party is represented, but because this particular view results from the biblical message," says Jung. This also includes encouraging the listeners of the sermon to make their own judgment, which may also be different.

Church in the "mainstream of political correctness"

But the fact is that this ecclesiastical self-restraint does not appeal to some people. On social media, they repeatedly accuse the church of red-green party politics. And top politicians also criticize the political statements of the church. Shortly before the Kirchentag in the last year of the Reformation, the then Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble - himself a Protestant - joined the debate. In the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” he criticized: “The church must be careful that it is not only involved in the mainstream of political correctness with the greatest dismay”. In a democracy everyone can have their own opinion: "Those who express themselves out of deep beliefs often do not understand that."

AfD at the Kirchentag: yes or no?

A prime example of Schäuble's accusation could be the decision of the Church Congress Presidium in September. It reads: at the Kirchentag 2019 in Dortmund, no AfD functionaries will be invited to panel discussions. And that although the previous Kirchentag made a discussion possible on a podium between the AfD representative Anette Schultner and the Berlin Bishop Markus Dröge. Now you continue to distance yourself from the AfD. “A completely wrong decision,” says writer Mai. And so that no misunderstanding arises: “I would find it just as bad if the left or the Greens were excluded.” Either there is a political discussion with all relevant parties - or none at all.

The President for the Kirchentag 2019, Hans Leyendecker, contradicts: “The Kirchentag is not a talk show. Representatives of a party that is in part inciting, inhuman and right-wing extremist has no place at a church convention. ”However, it is precisely in this argumentation that Mai sees the problem of the church formulated as an example. “Mr. Leyendecker presumes to say what is right-wing extremist and inhuman. The red lines are not defined by him or the church, but by the Basic Law. "And further:" If Mr. Leyendecker is a democrat, he has to endure the discussion with the AfD as well. "

Church President Jung countered this pragmatically: “The AfD has often made it clear that it is often not interested in objective discussions and joint attempts at finding a solution, but is looking for a platform. In this respect I can well understand that the Kirchentag does not want to offer this stage. "

"Church has no place in the companionship of power"

Much worse than the exclusion of the AfD, however, is the signal that the church is choosing its political interlocutors and adorning itself with them, said Mai. The past Kirchentag in Berlin was able to impress with political celebrities: Former US President Barack Obama was a guest and had himself photographed with EKD Council Chairman Bedford-Strohm and Chancellor Merkel. Mai is of the opinion that such media-compatible image transfers do not work at all: "The church has no place in the companionship of power," says the writer.

How can the church reach people again?

Whether the allegations are justified or not - the question is whether the church has to change something in order to be closer to the people again. Because what counts is above all how the church is perceived by its members.

If it were up to Klaus Rüdiger Mai, the church should simply become simpler: it should limit itself to its core competencies. "In a democracy that means for me, among other things, biblical studies, worship, pastoral care, diakonia, education and mission." That would correspond to the mission of the church rather than to cling to the zeitgeist, explains the writer.

Church President Jung, however, does not take this suggestion too short: "The idea works with the false assumption that there is an eternal truth that is detached from the temporal references and on which people can concentrate." But the biblical truth is a truth that is also concrete must be - belief and action cannot be separated from one another. This also includes helping to shape life in a society.

The President of the Church Congress, Hans Leyendecker, sees it similarly: “A total withdrawal from political discourse does not do justice to the Bible. There is also a claim to use the gospel to make the world more merciful and just. "