Germany: How will we choose after the election?

In the aftermath of Sunday’s general election, the commentators are trying to analyze the results. Most voices both nationally and internationally express their shock about Germany’s obvious shift to the right.

The right-wing populist party AfD came in third and made it into parliament easily. How are Christians in different churches and denominations going to respond?

I am wondering why millions of voters among the German population cast their votes for a party that tolerates right-wing extremist ideas in their ranks, and that has obviously drawn its opinions from the darkest recesses of the chamber of horrors of Nazi propaganda. The party chairman Alexander Gauland exclaimed in his triumphant speech after their success in the elections, "We will hunt Angela Merkel! We will take back our country and our people."

Jewish organizations were horrified about the fact the AfD found its way into parliament. The World Jewish Congress called the results "abhorrent". The chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster, expected the "democratic powers to reveal AfD's true face". Former president of the Central Council of Jews, Charlotte Knobloch, termed the results a "nightmare come true". The chairman of the World Jewish Congress called the AfD a "disgraceful reactionary party... recalling the worst of Germany's past". The AfD's political program shows the significance it places on Israel and Jewish life - none at all! Their party platform is the only one of any of the parties ever elected to the Bundestag (German parliament) that does not mention a single word about Israel's right to exist and the responsibility to oppose anti-Semitism.

So how are Christians in different churches and denominations going to respond? The German Moravian Daily Text for the day of the election was very fitting. It read, "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (Deut 30:19; NIV). We have made our choice in Germany, we have voted. But the choice we will have to make now as a consequence of our vote and in accountability before God will be infinitely more significant!

In my book on "Breaking the Veil of Silence" I warned that the demons of our Nazi past would rise again unless we were to learn to go beyond the historic working through of the past. In our churches and denominations we have to learn how to break our families' silence about anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred, and we have to name it for what it is. This gave birth to the March of Life movement that was able to mobilize tens of thousands of people in 60 cities this year alone. Obviously, the warning went unheeded in Germany. How will we choose after the elections? Christians in churches and denominations must not remain silent!

  1. This is the time to raise our voices and to warn against any form of right-wing extremism, Jew-hatred, and anti-Semitism, as well as against any racist attempt to marginalize minorities.
  2. This is the time to take a stand in our churches and denominations and to maximize our resistance against any attempt of revisionist historical misrepresentation and of downplaying the Holocaust. This will not be possible, unless we are willing to properly prioritize working through the Nazi past of our own families and providing Holocaust education.
  3. Now more than ever is the time to take to the streets for Israel's right to exist and against any form of anti-Semitism. Unless we are willing to do this, we will see the brown masses marching again. Unless churches and denominations understand that theological debate and petty dogmatic arguments in this matter are little more than excuses for not having to raise our voices, we will have learned nothing from history.

How will we choose after the elections? We need educational programs, prayer groups, and initiatives in every church and denomination, raising their voices for Israel and against anti-Semitism. Every Christian should be personally involved and not just wait for the sometimes tedious decision making process of a board or committee. "Breaking the Veil of Silence" at this time means mobilizing our churches and denominations year after year to take to the streets for a "March of Life" for Israel and against any form of far-right extremism, anti-Semitism, and Jew-hatred. Have we learned anything from the past? It is time to make our choices after the elections, and to choose life instead of curse.

 

Jobst Bittner is initiator and president of the March of Life movement that to date has been able to mobilize people in more than 350 cities and 18 nations to publicly raise their voices and take to the streets against any form of far-right extremism, anti-Semitism, and Jew-hatred, and for Israel. 

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