In my last two pieces, I wrote about Catholic Anti-Nazi martyrs who were canonized as saints later. Today I am writing about a German Lutheran theologian, the well-known and beloved Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In this piece and in future pieces during Pride Month, I will make parallels to modern-day fascism in the United States, Russia, and Poland. My primary source today is Encyclopedia Britannica and my husband’s personal experiences in Germany.
Since the German Lutheran Church was hijacked by Nazism, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer opposed Nazism, he started the Confessing Church. The Confessing Church preached the reality of Christianity’s role in the secular world. Bonhoeffer also wrote the influential book called The Cost of Discipleship. During Bonhoeffer’s short time in leading a small seminary and Church, the documentary revealed that Bonhoeffer valued all kinds of people, such as religious leaders like Gandhi, not just the White pro-Nazi Christian. Today, we can parallel this with the right wing of the Republican party. Both the Nazi’s and the right-wing of the Republican party want to harm, eliminate, and silence anyone who is not white, straight, Republican, “Christian,” healthy, and neurotypical. Doesn’t this “ring a bell” to the rise of fascism in the United States?
Saturday night, my husband Grant and I of nearly 29 years watched a documentary about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I would encourage you to at least watch the trailer below. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man of great love of God and for all of humanity which was contradictory to Nazism and our current rise in fascism in the USA, Russia, and Poland.
Bonhoeffer vocally opposed Adolf’ Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecutions of the Jews. After Bonhoeffer’s attempts to lead a small seminary and his own Confessing Church in Germany, The Nazi Gestapo destroyed his seminary and Church and then arrested Bonhoeffer. After he was imprisoned at the Tegal Prison for 1.5 years, he was transferred to Flossenburg Concentration Labor Camp. Since Bonhoeffer was accused of being associated to plot against the assassination of Hitler, he was finally hanged on April 9, 1945 and cremated with the other Jewish prisoners.
The Anglican Communion honors Dietrich Bonhoeffer on April 9th yearly. Today, one can find the Gallery of 20th Century Martyrs at Westminster Abbey. Of those martyrs, one can find statues of Mother Elizabeth of Russia, Martin Uther King King Jr, Oscar Ramero, and Dietrich Boenhoffer within the Gallery of Martyrs.
As I close, we cannot forget to learn from history. Right now, we have those who are attempting to uphold gay conversion and reparative therapy camps just as the Nazi party tried to uphold concentration camps. Programs such as the Courage International Program, a program condemned by all major LGBTQIA+ organizations, needs to be made illegal, Like concentration camps of the Nazi era, programs like Courage International have been proven to abuse and increase the risk of suicide. Since this camp of death and abuse resides in the Roman Catholic Church, including my local area, I will do everything I can to shut it down through only ethical means, radical love, and inclusion.
As the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.