The president of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has demanded the church take a clear position against right wingers and work to promote pro-migrant issues.
President of the EKD, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, has claimed that the internet and social media has led to a rise in so-called extremist and hateful opinions and that the church should work on making Germany more friendly for migrants, reports Donau Kurier.
Speaking at the EKD Synod on Sunday in Magdeburg, the president said that the prominence of “volkisch” ideas among the right wing in Germany was leading to a new wave of extremism. The word “volkisch” refers to the ethno-cultural people of Germany and became taboo after being used extensively by the Third Reich.
Leader of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) Frauke Petry has said she would like to rehabilitate the term.
“I do not use this term myself, but I do not like the fact that it is always used in a negative context,” Petry has previously stated. She added that she did not accept that the German word for people, or Volk, should always be used negatively.
President Bedford-Strohm went on to highlight the role of social media in the wave of populism that has been growing since the start of the migrant crisis last year. “Whoever attacks others under the guise of freedom of expression must be stopped,” he said. F
Freedom of expression has been curtailed in Germany with those critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migrant policies finding themselves arrested and their property searched in several high-profile raids on homes over alleged hate speech violations.
The EKD leader confirmed the church’s policy of working toward making Germany more friendly and accepting toward new migrants saying they will work “for this country to be hospitable and for the integration of the refugees to succeed in Germany”.
He added that Germans should in the future look back and say to themselves: “It was hard at the time, but we did it and we have become richer as a country by the people who came here.”
The Evangelical church in Germany’s stance on migrants is echoed by some in the German Catholic community who are so pro-migrant that they demanded that Christians who are persecuted by Muslims in asylum homes not be segregated. Thomas Sternberg, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), said that segregation would be a “disastrous signal” despite evidence of abuse.
A spokesman for the right-wing AfD claimed that the church’s ultra-pro-migrant stance may be evidence of an ulterior motive. According to AfD Bavarian chapter chief Petr Bystron, the church was pro-migrant because it directly profited from donations and government money. Bystron stated: “This phony public image of reaching out to refugees is also financing a gigantic charity industry under the organisational roof of the churches.”
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