Ecumenical News International

EKD Council Chair Bedford-Strohm: Military border posts for Europe are a "horror vision"

April 19, 2016

Ansbach (epd).Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Lutheran bishop in Bavaria and chair of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), has come out against the closing of Europe's external borders in the course of the refugee crisis. The idea of the continent of Europe divided by national borders secured by military force is a "horror vision", he said on 18 April in his report to the Bavarian Lutheran synod meeting in Ansbach. The churches were doing everything to prevent this development, the bishop said. They had always promoted Europe as a peace project, he added.

Interreligious dialogue gains in important

Interreligious dialogue was becoming even more important through the arrival of refugees, Bedford-Strohm told the 108 members of synod. The church congregations that had not yet got involved in interreligious dialogue should now take an interest in the refugees' religion.

Dialogue with Muslims in Germany presupposed a distinction between Islam as a religion and its abuse, the bishop stated. Religions should together give a clear witness against the justification of violence. "Using the name of God for terror and violence is blasphemy, there must be not a shred of doubt about that."

Protestant church members from 166 nations

In addition, Protestant Christians and congregations had to clarify the way they wanted to relate to people of other faith, Bedford-Strohm stated. That was all the more necessary now in view of the unprecedented numbers of openly xenophobic and Islamophobic groups that were making themselves heard on the political scene.

Bedford-Strohm reminded synod that the Protestant church members in Bavaria came from 166 nations, and ten percent of them had not been born in Germany. The Holy Ghost is not a "feel-good manager", he said, but brings Christians and congregations here in contact with people "whom we perhaps first have to live with before we discover how enriching they are for us".



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