Faith McDonnell has been with IRD since 1993. She is the Director of Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan. She writes and speaks on the subject of the persecuted church.
By Faith McDonnell (@Cuchulain09)
In a Gatestone Institute article on February 12, Soeren Kern writes of empty German churches being converted into mosques for Germany’s growing Muslim population.
The latest church conversion is taking place in Hamburg, where the historic Kapernaumkirche (Capernaum Church) and associated property, a cultural heritage site, was sold in 2005 to the Al-Nour Islamic Center. But Kern reveals that from “Berlin to Dortmund to Mönchengladbach, the gradual proliferation of mosques housed in former churches reflects the rise of Islam as the fastest growing religion in post-Christian Germany.”
Feelings vary on shrinking German church-going population (possibly 400 Roman Catholic churches and 100 Protestant churches closed since 2000, and another 700 Roman Catholic churches scheduled for closing over the next few years). Kern indicates that the major German newspapers appear to take the changing culture philosophically and tell the news in editorials with such titles as “When Mosques Replace Churches,” and “Tenant Allah.”
Church leaders in Germany are not as acquiescent. Kern says that “many have responded to the situation with a sense of unease and foreboding.” He quotes Roman Catholic and Lutheran clergy, as well as Christian political leaders who are resistant to the development and wish to pose “attractive building alternatives.”
What these leaders fail to understand, or don’t want to understand, is that such alternatives could never be as attractive as taking over a Christian church is for Islam. As the Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo has written in his book Faith, Power, and Territory, “Islam is unique among the major world religions in its emphasis on state structures and governance, which are considered to be of as much importance as private belief and morality (if not more).”
Speaking of the critical need for Christians in Islam-dominated countries to have buildings to an American Christian audience raised on the truth that “the Church is the people, not the buildings” — yet never faced with the horror of their building blown up or burned to the ground by jihadists, so ensconced comfortably within said buildings — Sookhdeo explained the significance of territory to Islam.
Western Christians may romanticize the idea of African Christians worshipping God under a tree, but Islamists see this as a lack of territory, power, and influence for the Church. Build a mosque, or in the case of Germany and so many other places now in the West, convert a Christian church into a mosque, and you have taken that territory from the Dar al-Harb (the region where Islam does not dominate) and claimed it for the Dar al-Islam (the region where Islam is sovereign). Every mosque is a power base. This is why German Christian leaders are right to feel unease and a sense of foreboding.
The people of Hamburg ought to be just as alarmed that last November their Socialist mayor, Olaf Scholz, signed a “State treaty” with the Muslim communities of the city. Kern quotes Jorg Frooman of the Christian Democratic Party who says that the City of Hamburg “guaranteed that Islamic religious communities have the right, within the framework of applicable laws, to build and operate mosques, prayer and meeting rooms, educational institutions and other community organizations according to their own discretion. This includes ensuring the right to equip Islamic mosques with domes and minarets.” Treaty signatory, Daniel Abdin, the Chairman of the Al-Noor Center, assures, “Do not worry, the muezzin will not shout from the minaret.”
Entering into treaties with non-Muslims has been one of the most successful methods used by Islam to gain territory and power throughout 1200 years of history. Kern quotes Luthern pastor Ulrich Rüß from northern Germany, who says that the situation reveals “how far secularization and the strengthening of the Islamic religious claim to power has advanced in our society.” Hamburg is now just the latest example of the speed with which a culture is transformed when a once vibrant Christianity is dead or dying.Google+