The church in Germany has again manifested remarkable courage. As a matter of fact, a number of Protestant and Catholic clergymen have defied Hitlerism and its dictates more bravely than any other element in Germany.
In response to Reichsbishop Mueller’s dictatorial orders to the Protestant clergy to swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler and to obey the Nazi church dictatorship, a number of Protestant pastors read from their pulpits last Sunday a fiery Manifesto defying the Hitlerite Reichsbishop and the ecclesiastical laws recently promulgated by his “National Synod.”
The Manifesto declared, in part, as follows:
“In the name of the ‘National Synod,’ an assemblage organized in open violation of the Church constitution, has decreed laws that legalize wrongs and injustices of long standing. This so called ‘National Synod’ and its deliberations are without legality both in church and civil law, and whoever obeys them violates the constitution and rights of the church. For our part we refuse to give heed to them and herewith appeal to our congregations not to become parties to a breach of the constitution…..
“This Reich Ministry scorns principles of right and justice. It subordinates preaching of the Gospel to the arbitrary will of fallibility. It disregards the admonition to brotherly love demanded by Holy Writ, thereby abandoning the gospel foundation of Reformed Churches.
“Whoever thus repeatedly violates the law he is called upon to defend forfeits all claim to obedience.
“For whoever deserts the principles of Christian teaching and Christian faith, which he is ordained to defend, places himself outside the pale of the Church.
“In all responsibility before God we, therefore, declare to churches and their members: Obedience to this ‘church’ means disobedience to God.”
This Manifesto was drawn up at a meeting of dissident pastors in Hamburg. Among those who participated in the deliberations were Rev. Dr. Niemoller and Rev. Dr. Gerhard Jacobi.
The Manifesto was read in the church of Rev. Dr. Martin Niemoller in Dahlem, as well as in other churches in Greater Berlin.
It is reported that numerous pastors who denounced the authority of Reichsbishop Mueller as the Evangelical dictator have been arrested.
While Hitler’s latest move to muzzle the Protestant Church in Germany by giving dictatorial powers to Reichsbishop Mueller is in keeping with Hitler’s mockery of Christianity ever since he came into power, and while it was merely a form of legalizing the dictatorship which had already been imposed upon the church by the Nazi regime, The Manifesto of the courageous pastors is a noteworthy document that is destined to play an important role in the breakdown of Hitlerism. It serves two great purposes. It calls to the attention of the world once more the anti-Christian and inhuman doctrines of Hitlerism. And it also helps to awaken the German people to the realization of their own degradation and enslavement under the Nazi regime.
Under present conditions, no other element in Germany could fight the battle for human rights so effectively as the spiritual leaders. Those Germans who battle for their Lord who had preached peace and brotherly love, may be truly classed as heroes, for in battling for Christianity they are battling against Hitlerism, which is the negation of all that is worthwhile in any religion. They are heroes as compared with other elements of the German population that have remained silent. But as true Christian spiritual leaders they could not consistently serve Christ and Hitler at the same time. If they had accepted the servility imposed upon them by the Nazi paganism of brute force and hate, without a vigorous protest, they would have forfeited their right to call themselves Christian pastors.
Obedience to Hitler is disobedience to God, as pointed out by the daring German pastors.
Nazism has placed Germany not only outside the pale of the Christian Church, but also outside the pale of civilization.