Germany’s far-right AfD party fired back Thursday at criticism from church leaders charging them with taking on the same “disreputable role they played” during the Nazi era. Religious leaders have spoken out against the anti-migrant and anti-Islam Alternative for Germany party remarks the AfD sees as collusion with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
“We now know that the official churches, whether Protestant or Catholic, are politicized through and through,” Alice Weidel, party co-chair, told weekly news magazine Focus. “The separation of church and state is no longer respected,” said Weidel in a pre-released excerpt of an article to be published Saturday.
“With a few exceptions, large parts of the churches play exactly the same disreputable role that they played in the Third Reich,” added Weidel, whose party regularly makes polemical remarks about Germany’s Nazi past. Protestant and Catholic institutions in Germany did not put up organized resistance to the 1933-45 National Socialist regime, although individual pastors and priests opposed the Nazi rise.
In recent months, Christian leaders have urged AfD members to rethink their positions. Weidel asserted that the AfD “is the only Christian party that still exists” in Germany and criticised Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) by charging that “the C of the CDU has become absurd”.
“Christian values no longer matter there,” she said. The AfD came in third in Germany’s general elections in September, with nearly 13 percent of the vote. Although it began as an anti-euro party, its rhetoric has veered right to primarily rail against immigration and Islam.
Key AfD members have challenged Germany’s culture of atonement over World War II and the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust. During its electoral campaign, the AfD rolled out provocative posters declaring “Burkas? We prefer bikinis” and “New Germans? Let’s make them ourselves”, featuring a heavily pregnant white woman.