According to the conviction of the theologian and sociologist of religion Professor Thomas Schirrmacher (Bonn), Christians can only be effectively protected from persecution where minorities in general have freedom. Engagement for persecuted Christians therefore always presupposes a commitment to general freedom of religion, the President of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights stated on Thursday in Stuttgart at the German Protestant Church Assembly.
Schirrmacher, who among other things is chairman of the Theological Commission of the Evangelical World Evangelical Alliance, appealed to the responsibility of each individual human being:
“It is people here and now who decide whether they will live in peace.”
One should not accept the argument that it is quasi irreversible historical developments that lead people of different religions or denominations to wage war against each other.
According to Schirrmacher, there are examples where society decide that religions and denominations across the board will live together peacefully. Schirrmacher stressed that such examples must be promoted and made publicly known. He cited Albania as a current example, where the various religious communities committed themselves to peace in 1990.
“And this occurred in the middle of an environment in which the religious card continues to be played in conflicts,” Schirrmacher emphasized.
The majority of Christians live “on the sunny side of religious freedom,” namely in democratic countries, the theologian said. Schirrmacher maintains that this is no coincidence since Christianity includes the task of arranging peaceful coexistence. However, he maintains further that this is no reason to be arrogant, as there has again and again been persecution of different believers, even between denominations, in countries characterized by Christianity.
Upon the occasion of the Church Congress reception hosted by the Evangelical Working Group of the Christian Democratic Union/ Christian Social Union (Christlich Demokratische Union/ Christlich-Soziale Union, or CDU/CSU), Schirrmacher held talks on the subject of religious freedom with the President of the Church Congress, Andreas Barner, the Council Chairman of the EKD, Prof. Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the host Bishop Frank Otfried July, the Federal Ministers Wolfgang Schäuble and Thomas de Maizière, and the General Secretary of the CDU, Peter Tauber. As he told Evangelische Verantwortung (Berlin), he was delighted that the interest in doing something concrete for fellow Christians who are suffering was increasing strongly within the EKD and within the CDU.
On Hope and correct Anger
From the point of view of the Bishop of Württemberg Frank Otfried July, churches should not let themselves be pulled down by supposedly bad poll results and rising numbers of people leaving the church. The church is still the largest institution that can unite people from different milieus, the Protestant theologian stated at the church congress in Stuttgart. In the Württemberg state church there are about 150,000 volunteers, so “Why should we moan” in view of such figures?
Freedom as a Prerequisite
According to the theologian and sociologist of religion Thomas Schirrmacher, Christians can only be effectively protected from persecution where minorities in general have freedom. Engagement for persecuted Christians therefore always presupposes a commitment to general freedom of religion, according to the President of the International Council of the International Society for Human Rights.
Anger about the Death Penalty
The Chairman of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, is “quite angry” about the fact that the USA has not yet abolished the death penalty. It is a mystery to him how a country characterized by Christianity could impose the death penalty on people.
(Source: Schwäbisches Tagblatt)
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