German pastor: Unvaccinated feel abandoned by church

24-01-2022

Central Europe

RD, religious correspondent

Photo AFP, Ina Fassbender

Members of German churches who cannot or do not want to be vaccinated increasingly feel “abandoned” by the church.

This writes Rev. Alexander Titz, prison chaplain in Ebrach, in the January issue of the Correspondence Journal of the Pastors’ Association of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria. Rev. Titz, who has not vaccinated himself, criticises the attitude of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the Protestant people’s church. The Church spoke positively about the vaccination obligation that the German government wants to implement. According to the prison pastor, the EKD thus participates in “discrimination, exclusion and bullying” of unvaccinated.

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Alexander Titz. Photo Alexander Titz

Rev. Titz does not write why he does not get vaccinated against Covid-19. However, he “obviously adheres to the AHA rules (distance, hygiene, facemask), avoids groups of people and is regularly tested at work.” He is not a conspiracy theorist.

The pastor says he knows a lot of unvaccinated people who are doing worse psychologically and physically. “They experience the division in their family.” Many of them, he says, view vaccination as going “against their religious beliefs.” Rev. Titz expresses the wish that “people in our national church stand up and cry: ‘Stop the madness of this crusade! Stop stigmatising. No discrimination and no exclusion!’”

Last straw

Rev. Titz is not the only one to be critical of the EKD’s attitude. The director of the Christian Media Academy of the Christian Media Initiative pro in Wetzlar, Egmond Prill, went a step further and cancelled his membership of this church, according to news service Idea. LINK

The 65-year-old theologian and journalist gives an account on his website. The “last straw” for him to leave the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck were the statements of EKD council chairperson Annette Kurschus. Just before Christmas, she spoke out in favour of mandatory vaccination against corona for certain professional groups. Kurschus indicated that he saw it as the “duty” of the church to prevent a division of society around the vaccination obligation. Prill: “With such statements and its corona policy, this church is not only splitting its flock of sheep but also society.” Prill had been suffering from the church for some time, he writes. Among other things, he refers to the approval of marriage “for and with all,” the promotion of feminist Bible translations, and the non-contradiction of “gender language.” According to the theologian, there are certainly still Bible-believing congregations within the EKD, but “the whole train is going in the wrong direction.”

Free Churches

The major German churches have mostly expressed a positive opinion about the vaccination obligation that the government wants to introduce. As CNE reported earlier, resistance is particularly strong among evangelicals and pietists, who are mainly in the free churches in Germany. Although many pastors favour vaccination, they are against compulsory vaccination, according to a survey by Idea.

Incidentally, Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, until recently council president of the Evangelical Church in Germany, also spoke out against compulsory vaccination at the beginning of January. This “drastic remedy” will only come into view for him as the very last, he told BR Fernsehen. In his New Year’s speech, the Bishop of Bavaria had already called for respectful treatment of each other in this discussion. According to Bedford-Strohm, many unvaccinated people in Germany “feel personally left out.” Among them, he says, are people who have “a great inner aversion to this intervention in their bodies” or who experience fear of it. In the light of the omikron variant of the virus, there are very good grounds for the restrictive measures in Germany, according to Bedford-Strohm.

It is unknown how large the number of unvaccinated people is within the German churches and wider.

Austria

Germany currently does not have a vaccination obligation, but the new coalition is aiming for this – in line with the previous one. The Austrian parliament approved a vaccination obligation from February 1st on Thursday evening. It is, therefore, the first European country with such a far-reaching measure. Also, in Austria, the larger churches consider the law justified.

This article was translated by CNE.news and previously published in Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad on January 22th, 2022.

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