Evangelical Church Congress: Church Congress 2023 between high politics and Bible exegesis

A Federal President who thinks about how water becomes wine.

Evangelical Church Congress: Church Congress 2023 between high politics and Bible exegesis

A Federal President who thinks about how water becomes wine. A CDU leader who wonders how things will continue after death - and a Bavarian Prime Minister who sees little more in the Bible story about Joseph and his brothers than ""Good times, bad times" in the Bible".

Top politicians also used the Evangelical Church Congress in Nuremberg to formulate their religious thoughts. One more, the other much less well-founded. The Kirchentag will not be remembered, however, because the politicians show their religious side - but the Protestant Church is explicitly political and completely different from the way people are familiar with it.

The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the AfD's high in polls, climate change - the Kirchentag makes all of this an issue and gives top politicians plenty of room to do the same.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) defend the asylum compromise and their foreign policy in the Russian war of aggression, CDU leader Friedrich Merz is clearly opposed to any form of appeasement policy towards Russia. All three received a lot of applause on Saturday - just like the day before the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Carsten Breuer, with his expected clear yes to arms deliveries to the war zone.

This is at least so unusual for the traditionally pacifist Church Congress that the organizers emphasized it clearly at the press conference on Saturday. Some politicians might have been booed earlier, says the General Secretary of the Kirchentag, Kristin Jahn. "Maybe it's good that something is changing." Because the social challenges are great and need cooperation and not competition.

Former Federal President Joachim Gauck takes up this in a discussion with Baerbock and emphasizes that pacifism is a wonderful idea. "Unfortunately, I had to learn that we were sometimes in a romantic bubble," he said, and "that there is a difference between our beautiful visions and wishes and what is politically feasible." He emphasizes: "Of course you have to help the victim. What else?" He sees it like Baerbock, who says: "For me, standing on the attacker's side is not an option."

The great challenge of climate change also gets a lot of space at the Kirchentag: The activist Luisa Neubauer is a guest and is almost celebrated in the old walls of the St. Sebald church. And Carla Hinrichs from the Last Generation group is sitting on the podium together with Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens).

For Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) from Baden-Württemberg, the climatic changes are a "turning point". He, too, masters the balancing act between Bible exegesis and political message and leaves his audience quite hopeful despite the challenges posed by climate change: "The time will come - the time has already come."

Of course, the chancellor feels visibly more comfortable when the subject of church and faith is dealt with and he doesn't have to say much about it: He was baptized as a Protestant and left, he doesn't like to explain his motives. Just this much: He has read the Bible in its entirety and thinks that people's cultural thinking is shaped by it.

The number of events on the subject of abuse in the Protestant Church is comparatively small - and so is the interest in the main event on the subject, at least at first glance. Most of the seats in the hall remain empty for the panel discussion entitled "Calling abuse by its name".

Information on the Kirchentag Details on the programme