Evangelicals Portrayed as Dangerous Elements
German Evangelical Alliance: Public Image Has Changed
By Wolfgang Polzer, Special to ASSIST News Service, September 30, 2008

BLANKENBURG (ANS) -- Public attitudes towards evangelicals in Germany have changed. Whereas they used to be ignored they have become the focus of attention in recent years.

The media in Luther's home country tend to approach the roughly 1.3 million evangelicals with a hostile attitude. They often portray them as dangerous fundamentalists, says Stephan Holthaus, Dean of the Free Theological Academy in Giessen.

Speaking at a central meeting of the German Evangelical Alliance, in Blankenburg, Thuringia, September 27, Holthaus criticized the media for presenting an undifferentiated image of evangelicals. They were often described as "hardliners" or "fighters" for the faith.

Marginal issues in Germany, for instance homeschooling, were blown out of proportion. The media seemed to suggest that evangelicals on the whole refuse to send their children to public schools. For most German evangelicals this is, however, a non-issue, said Holthaus.

Many journalists also tended to exploit the widespread fear of religious extremism and place Islamic terrorists and evangelicals in the same bracket.

"Evangelicals are misfits in the framework of a totally tolerant society," said Holthaus. "We evangelize and we stand for an absolute truth". This standpoint clashes with post-modern relativism.

Holthaus admitted that sometimes evangelicals fail in public discussions because their arguments are not good enough. He called on the Evangelical Alliance to establish a "Center for Apologetics".

Juergen Werth, chairman of the German Evangelical Alliance, hopes that the umbrella organization will also serve as a platform for the growing number of independent and migrant churches in Germany.

Approximately 400 evangelical congregations are not affiliated with any of the established churches according to official estimates. The number of local churches made up of immigrants from all continents is also growing.