Ecumenical News International

EKD Council Chair calls for Tolerance and Respect

January 24, 2013

Brunswick (epd). The Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Nikolaus Schneider, has called on society to show more religious tolerance. Speaking on Wednesday evening in Brunswick Cathedral, he referred to the debate about religious circumcision last year: after a judgment by the Cologne district court, there had also been negative reactions towards Jews and Muslims. It was not enough to merely tolerate what may seem strange to us, he claimed. We must also actively respect difference for the sake of society.

The lead candidates of the SPD and CDU parties in the recent Lower Saxony election campaign had done "good service" to tolerance through their "fairness". "I was moved to see that neither of them attacked the other personally during the campaign," Schneider noted.
Schneider mentioned a further example of necessary active tolerance during the reception offered by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick, namely the recognition of same-sex couples. In the run-up to the 2017 Reformation anniversary, the EKD has placed the year 2013 under the heading of "Tolerance and Reformation".

The Christian church has a long history of intolerance behind it, which should not be played down, in the view of the Council Chair (quoted from his distributed manuscript). The writings of Martin Luther (1483-1546) against the Jews, his attitude to the persecuted Anabaptist movement and to witch-burning, were today rightly termed "death-bringing intolerance". "This throws a dark shadow over our history, which our church must confront as we move towards the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017."

However, the Protestant church has learned from its history, Schneider concludes. Over 8000 Protestant kindergartens and over 1000 Protestant schools in Germany teach an active understanding of tolerance to children and young people nowadays. Almost 30 percent of students come from families with a migration background.

Address by Nikolaus Schneider on Reformation and Toleranz in Brunswick Cathedral 



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