German Evangelicals Outraged at TV Program
Political Magazine Compares Missionaries With Jihadists

By Wolfgang Polzer, Special to ASSIST News Service, August 5, 2009

MAINZ (ANS) -- A TV program on one of Germany's major channels angers evangelicals. In its political magazine "Frontal 21" the public sector broadcaster ZDF aired a report entitled "Dying For Jesus - Mission Adventure", August 4.

Missionary minded evangelicals were compared with Jihadists. The program ended with the comment: "Being prepared to die for God: That sounds familiar - for Islamic fundamentalists. But it seems also to be true for radical Christians".

The TV report was produced in the light of the recent murder of two German evangelical bible school students and a Korean teacher in Yemen. The authors of the report - Arndt Ginzel, Martin Kraushaar and Ulrich Stoll - accuse evangelical mission agencies of sending out young Christians on mission adventures in unreached regions, where they are bound to risk their lives.

The authors are critical of a "long, unholy tradition" of martyrdom. Even today, missionaries buried in a cemetery in Korntal near Stuttgart served as good examples for evangelicals.

Korntal is home to the Association of Evangelical Missions (AEM), the biggest missionary umbrella organization in Germany. The 92 member agencies have 3,900 missionaries around the globe.

In a letter to the ZDF, AEM's ch airman Detlef Bloecher protests against the "simplistic rhetoric" of the TV report. He accuses the authors of applying "double standards" and showing a "discriminating attitude" towards evangelicals.

It is absolutely commendable, emphasized Bloecher, that young Christians are dedicating their lives to helping those in need. This had nothing to do with a craving for death or suicide attacks, as the TV authors had insinuated.

They failed to draw the line between the biblical message of love and reconciliation on the one hand and the unrestrained hatred of Islamist extremists on the other. Bloecher regards an attitude as two-faced, which detests dedicated Christians, but admires journalists and environmental activists, who risk their lives for their cause.

Wolfgang Baake, director of the Christian Media Association KEP (Conference of Evangelical Publicists), filed a program complaint with ZDF. According to Baake, the TV program has offended Christian martyrs past and present.

The TV journalists had also posed as students at a missionary seminary in Korntal, filmed with hidden camera and trespassed the grounds of the institution. It is not true that martyrs are buried in Korntal, writes Baake.

The director of the evangelical media watchdog accuses the authors of "determined manipulation" and demands a correction in the weekly TV magazine.