What motivates Christian fundamentalists to evangelize

The contribution was written on behalf of the Goethe-Institut, which, however, could not withstand the pressure of influential evangelical circles and took it off its website shortly after publication ... *

Witnesses to divine truth

Christian fundamentalism in Germany

From Roland Detsch

Christian fundamentalism, especially if it is supposed to be politically motivated, is often underestimated. Above all, the presidency of the "born again Christian" George W. In Germany, Bush brought the phenomenon as such into public awareness in the first place. The missionary zeal of the Evangelicals from the USA has long been bearing fruit in this country as well.

Anyone who thinks of zealous mullahs or Islamic warriors of God when they think of “fundamentalism” is wrong. Likewise, whoever suspects only the Catholic Church of Christian conservatism in view of the Pius Brotherhood, Opus Dei or Opus Angelorum. Even if the clergy appear civil, are allowed to marry, women come into office and dignity, places of worship and rites seem profane, the inconsistent Protestantism is the true home of Christian fundamentalists. Above all the evangelicals, who see themselves as his spearhead. Their playgrounds are the free churches but also the Protestant regional churches, to which almost every second of the estimated 1.4 million feel they belong.

Critics under fire

If the evangelicals seemed conspicuously inconspicuous so far, they recently drew attention to themselves in an unusually clear manner several times. Once in connection with a critical article about evangelical youth missionaries in the magazine against right-wing extremism and racism Q-rage, one million copies of which were distributed to 20,000 schools. The mention of evangelicals in the same breath as Islamists in the editorial put the head of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Thomas Krüger, in such a mess that he finally had to publicly distance himself from his letter in order to keep his office.

The other time in connection with two undercover reports about the evangelical “Youth with a Mission” (YWAM), first in the ZDF magazine Frontal 21 (“Die for Jesus - Missioning as an adventure”), most recently on October 8, 2009 in ARD magazine Panorama (“Die for God?”). They called the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, Jochen Bohl, on the scene, who first saw unjustified opinion-making at work, only to regretfully row back later.

Organizational network

The originator of both campaigns is the German Evangelical Alliance (DEA), umbrella organization of 342 supraregional plants and 1 105 local groups throughout the republic. According to its own account, this sub-organization of the Seattle-based World Evangelical Alliance stands “in full on the salvation facts of the Bible and professes to the entire Bible as God's word, without being bound to a specific doctrine of inspiration”.

The 19 named works and institutions of the DEA include the Coalition for Evangelism ("Lausanne Movement" Germany), the Working Group on Evangelical Missions, the Working Group for Evangelical Missiology, the Christian InterNet Working Group, the Christian Media Association KEP, the Christian news portal idea and the station ERF Medien. The DEA also operates its own institute for questions about Islam, which, according to its own account, offers “factual and scientific research and information on the subject of Islam from a Christian perspective against the background of the special events of our time”. It is the organizer of the Christival through an association of the same name. This major event, known as the “motivational congress”, is explicitly aimed at young “Christians from all congregations and churches who want to help the next generation in Germany, Europe and beyond to hear the message of Jesus”.

Missionaries against modernity

The Christival takes place at irregular intervals. Most recently at the end of April 2008 with 16,000 participants in Bremen, best remembered because of a scandal caused by the Green politician Volker Beck with attacks on the patron, Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU). The occasion: two seminars on the agenda that dealt with abortion as murder and the need for therapy for homosexuality. With which Beck, in turn, got scolding from Bishop Wolfgang Huber. The then Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), who during his term of office courted the Evangelicals like no other before him, vehemently defended the Christival and its organizers against allegations of fundamentalism in the run-up to his visit. “To equate evangelical and fundamentalist contradicts my life experience. Just as it is wrong to think of new imports from America when it comes to evangelicals, ”said the evangelical theologian and Lutheran. "What is called evangelical today is primarily anchored in Pietism."

The German evangelicals are undoubtedly intertwined with the so-called “religious right” in the USA, which openly professes Christian fundamentalism. Yes, for whose moral concepts and piety this now relatively arbitrarily used term was coined in the first place. In allusion to a series of publications directed against new scientific and philosophical findings with the title: "The Fundamantals: A Testimony to the Truth", which, according to the Berlin political scientist Katja Mertin, was also used by religious nationalists in the First World War to raise the mood against "German culture" as Symbol of modernism, godlessness and decay.

Apocalyptic fight

Religion gives the anti-modernist "struggle a higher degree of consecration and allows the fundamentalists to see themselves as heroes in an apocalyptic struggle," says the sociologist of religion Martin Riesebrodt. “From birth to death, from the most intimate to the most public sides of human existence, religions have ideologies and practices at their disposal that are available to individuals in crisis situations and which, due to their tradition and sacredness, often enjoy an advantage over all secular alternatives, so Riesebrodt on. "Not least for these reasons, fundamentalist milieus are often successful in reorganizing the world of their followers cognitively, emotionally and practically, in giving them a new social identity and in helping to regain dignity and self-respect."


Evangelical Alliance Germany (EAD)

Christival 2008 information

Contributions by Martin Riesebrodt and Katja Mertin in
"Fundamentalism. Politicized Religions ”, ed. v. Kilian Kindelberger

EKD Weltanschauung Commissioner Reinhard Hempelmann: "Evangelicals are not fundamentalists"

Core values ​​of "Youth with a Mission" (YWAM)

* ... It began, as is so often the case, with a coordinated letter to the editor and culminated in a letter from the CSU MP Peter Gauweiler's legal office to Wolfgang Baake, the representative of the Evangelical Alliance at the seat of the German Bundestag and the Federal Government, in which the Causa was presented. With reference to a possible defamation of some members of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group who belong to the alliance (namely Volkmar Klein, Frank Heinrich, Johann Selle and not to forget CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe), he had spoken out about the denigration of his fellow believers at Gauweiler ( CC: Volker Kauder and Hans-Peter Friedrich) complained, who then asked the GI for an opinion. The case ended with a formal apology, the withdrawal of the article, the assignment of blame to the author and the announcement that the topic would soon be "taken up again in a more differentiated manner," which of course never happened.