What’s so Christian about Germany’s Christian Democrats?

After German voters sent the Christian Democrats — led by Chancellor Angela Merkel — back to power with 13 more seats, it seemed appropriate to ask: In a secular country, what exactly makes it “Christian?”  The Christian Democratic Union says its “policies are based on theChristian view of Man and his responsibilities before God.” HoweverGermans ...

580100_091001_christianmerkel2.jpg
580100_091001_christianmerkel2.jpg

After German voters sent the Christian Democrats -- led by Chancellor Angela Merkel -- back to power with 13 more seats, it seemed appropriate to ask: In a secular country, what exactly makes it "Christian?" 

The Christian Democratic Union says its "policies are based on theChristian view of Man and his responsibilities before God." HoweverGermans shy away from being connected with other versions of politicalChristianity.

After German voters sent the Christian Democrats — led by Chancellor Angela Merkel — back to power with 13 more seats, it seemed appropriate to ask: In a secular country, what exactly makes it “Christian?” 

The Christian Democratic Union says its “policies are based on theChristian view of Man and his responsibilities before God.” HoweverGermans shy away from being connected with other versions of politicalChristianity.

Christianity Today recently interviewed Merke’s minister of state on this issue. “Germans don’t want to be called evangelical because theyare labeled by an image dominated by American evangelicals,” Grohe said. He does want to see more German Christians discussing their faith in public, mixing personal with civil life, citing the United Kingdom as an example where religion and politics mix well.

Fighting abortion rights is an important issue for German Christians, but Grohe said fighting poverty and climate change are also imperative.

Talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, Grohe said, “We are still struggling to put together two very different societies.” This is especially evident looking at the electoral map from the recent election. (Sorry it is in French, scroll on the semi-circle to see how each party did in each region)

The former East Germany had the strongest support for The Left and the least support for the Christian Democrats. This is paralleled in East Berlin and West Berlin. The difference is more for political reasons than for religious reasons, but anti-religious feelings in Eastern Germany are prevalent.

“In East Germany, there’s still a strong non-religious presence. Religion is for your grandma,” Grohe said. “People say they forgot they forgot God.”

Grohe said the pacifist aspects of the religion don’t play much of a role in German politics, most people who want out of Afghanistan want out because they think it is unwinnable, not because of any feeling of religious necessity. However, a dislike for Islam is present in some German Christians.

“I’m very shocked when I see Christians talking hatefully about Muslims,” he said. “When I talk about the need for freedom to build Islamic mosques, I receive shameful letters from Christians filled with hate.” 

Update: The link to the Christianity Today interview is down, but should be working again soon. 

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images 

Bobby Pierce is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

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