“Protest for all”: Social conservatives in France vs. Germany

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Though Christianity is said to be on the decline in Europe, social conservatives are often staging huge protests over issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

The rallies–that go by the name “Protest for All”–are biggest in France, despite the liberal bent of its culture. Germany also has its rallies with the same name, but they are smaller and the social conservatives are far less vocal, even though Germany is much more conservative culturally.

Why is this?  An article in the British publication The Economist speculates that in France with its official secularism, holding to any religion has become “an edgy protest against the established order.”  Whereas in Germany, with its established church, religious people are less likely to rock the boat, lest they lose their privileged position.

What applications do you see for social conservatives in the United States of America, where we have both separation between church and state (as in France) as well as social respectability for religion (as in Germany)?

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What Germany is doing for Luther’s 500th Anniversary

Stadtkirche_Wittenberg_Marktplatz_mit_Rathaus_11_CGermany has lots going on for the 500th Anniversary year of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses.  The country has spiffed itself up (though Germany is always pretty spiffy), is sponsoring lots of Luther exhibits, and has launched special non-Luther things to see and do.

Travel writer Rick Steves tells “What’s new in Germany” after the jump.  This includes an exhibit on Luther’s life and times in Wittenberg, an exhibit on Luther’s influence on Germany in Wartburg, and an exhibit on Luther’s global influence in Berlin.

Steves goes on to tell about other good reasons to visit Germany and Eastern Europe in 2017.

At one point, we were discussing sponsoring a Cranach tour this year in conjunction with Lori Lewis and the fans of her Katie Luther opera.  But that possibility has fallen through.  But if you want to be in Wittenberg for the anniversary year, go here. [Read more…]

German government vs. Christian converts

refugees-B-INThe German government is mistreating ex-Muslim immigrants who have converted to Christianity, according to Rev. Gottfried Martens (a Lutheran pastor in fellowship with the LCMS) who has evangelized and baptized over a thousand of them).

He says hearing boards on their immigration applications are testing their Christianity by asking them questions such as “what are the names of the two sons in the parable of the Prodigal Son?” and “What did Martin Luther die of?”  And they are mocking what they say about Christianity, about how Christ has died for their sins.

Pastor Martens has written a letter detailing his charges.  Read what he is complaining about after the jump. [Read more…]

Luther’s influence on German culture

Luther-Catechism-1560-LeipzigThe Economist has a fascinating article on “How Martin Luther has shaped Germany for half a millennium.”

I’m not sure how accurate it is.  (Luther’s moralism?  For the person who insisted that salvation is by grace through faith, rather than good works?  Well, maybe so.  Maybe this is evidence that an emphasis on faith really does bear fruit in good works.  But “dour,” for the most uproarious of theologians?  “Lutheran socialism,” finding the origin of the northern European welfare state in Luther’s neighbor-centered view of vocation?)

But that Luther influenced Germany’s love of music, emphasis on education, love of books, work ethic, etc., rings true.

UPDATE:  Note the critique of this article by German journalist and confessional Lutheran Uwe Siemon-Netto in a recorded interview on Issues, Etc. (HT:  Jeremiah Oehlerlich & Carl Vehse)

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Profile of Muslim converts & their church

The Atlantic has a profile of Muslim converts in Germany, with special emphasis on the congregations they are attending.  The focus is on Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, a SELK congregation in fellowship with the LCMS. The pastor, Gottfried Martens, studied at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

They have around 1,000 baptized members who are ex-Muslims, with 300 on a waiting list, apparently being catechized.  (The Atlantic reporter doesn’t quite understand Lutheranism.  It’s kind of amusing to see how she describes catechism and her confusion about crossing herself.  But kudos to her and also to her publication for significantly ramping up its religion coverage.)  The story describes Germans and ex-Muslims (who outnumber the former) having tea after service, their children playing together, all taking part in the normal workings of a congregation.
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More on Muslims converting to Christianity

International journalist Uwe Siemon-Netto, a confessional Lutheran, has more details about Muslims converting to Christianity.  He has published a compelling article in the Australian magazine Quadrant that you need to read for yourself.  Excerpt and link after the jump.  (Tomorrow we’ll post about the strange phenomenon of the Muslims dreaming about Jesus.) [Read more…]