How many churches are there in Denmark
Denmark is considering sermon controlsChurches belonging to the German minority fear collateral damage
"As a German minority, we are placed under general suspicion," says Matthias Alpen, pastor of the German Northern Church in the southern Danish Lügumkloster. In the meantime, the general ban on preaching in a non-Danish language is apparently off the table; Recent government consideration: all sermons in foreign languages should be translated into Danish and sent to a government agency.
"The tenor of this legislative proposal contradicts all political declarations and active cooperation in the German-Danish border region. It is downright grotesque that such a proposal has been made for translations of German sermons," said Alpen.
(picture-alliance / Sven Simon) More philosophy, less politics
The writer Zafer Senocak criticizes the imam training in Germany. Many theological and philosophical traditions of Islam were thus neglected. This legacy must be rediscovered, said Senocak in the Dlf.
Rajah Scheepers sees it very similarly. Scheepers, who comes from Berlin, is pastor of the German St. Petri Church in Copenhagen. "We have a total of 1000 members and are there after Sweden, after Stockholm, the second oldest German congregation abroad and have always been very closely connected to the Danish royal family many members of the Danish royal family have also been members of our community over the past 446 years. "
Sermons are subject to the principle of equality
On the one hand, the German pastor can understand that the Danish government wants to take action against Islamist despisers of democracy. "As a citizen, it is understandable that a state does not want to preach hate. The only question that politicians have to answer, of course, is whether that would be the right method to achieve this goal." The problem for the government: Because of the constitutional principle of equality, it cannot for example generally prohibit Arabic sermons by imams and at the same time allow Christian clergy to do so.
German congregation abroad in Copenhagen: Church and German school St. Petri (imago sportfotodienst)
But the government sticks to its plan if the collateral damage were immense: "Here in Copenhagen alone there are 150 Christian congregations where preaching is done in other languages. And, as is well known, Greenland and the Faroe Islands also belong to Denmark could preach in Greenlandic or in the language of the Faroe Islands, that would all be very unusual. "
German-Danish friendship in danger?
For Rajah Scheepers, the government's request also means an affront to German-Danish friendship: "Last year, the German-Danish year of friendship was celebrated, in which 100 years of demarcation were celebrated. And 100 years ago, the minorities were promised that they can of course continue to attend church services in their language, that they can continue to attend schools in their language and so on. And that's why there are a lot of German-speaking institutions in North Schleswig and in South Schleswig, i.e. in the north of Schleswig- Holstein, very many Danish-speaking institutions such as schools, municipalities, etc. "
(Deutschlandradio / Tobias Kühn) Capital of Culture 2017 - Jewish life in Aarhus
Aarhus in Denmark is shaped by Protestantism and will be the cultural capital in 2017. Then the city also wants to deal with religion and religious minorities. One question might be, how do Jews live in a country where there are hardly any Jews?
The Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations of 1955 confirmed these rights of the respective minorities in the two countries. The government's actions would probably violate this declaration as well.
Dorothea Lindow, pastor in the Danish town of Tønder, which lies directly on the border with Germany, also blames the growing distance between Danish politics and the religious communities for the government draft. In ministries and parliaments, the religious language would no longer be understood at all: "I think that Christianity has something that breaks boundaries or something that crosses borders. This religious dimension is not understood, it is a legal dimension that does not go together with the religious dimension."
Risk of self-censorship
It is still completely unclear how such a law could be implemented. Some mosque communities do not have the capacity to translate every sermon into Danish, complains the Islamic Community in Denmark. That would then be tantamount to a ban on preaching. Dorothea Lindow sees another danger:
"We have such a prophetic office in the church, and the prophets in the Old Testament are the ones who really hit the wall sometimes, and also say something to the government, and I see a bit of a risk of being in one of those anticipatory obedience slips in; that one thinks, well, that has to be translated afterwards, then someone has to check it and someone read it. And maybe also check whether it corresponds to what was said in the church. Sometimes you say yes also something different than what you formulated beforehand, and that you slip into it somewhere from the start, that you limit yourself out of fear, out of the fear that it will be checked afterwards and will not be okay. "
The Danish government is still keeping a low profile as to whether it wants to take action against the Islamist and thus possibly against all preachers with a specific law. But the government's intention to control non-Danish sermons hangs like a sword of Damocles over the German-speaking congregations in Denmark.
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