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Religion on Public Life Is Focus of 'German Days At The Sem'

More than 175 people attended “German Days at the Sem” hosted by the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life (CLTPL) in St. Louis, Oct. 24-25, on the campus of Concordia Seminary. The two-day event marked the second in a series of 10 significant events, held every fall leading up to the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation on Oct. 31, 2017.

The theme of this year’s “German Days II” was “Faith and Politics in Luther’s Land – and Here” and addressed a pertinent topic in this election year – the impact of religion on public life. Scholars and prominent statesmen from both sides of the Atlantic discussed the influence of Germany’s Christian heritage on its national affairs and the political life in the European Union. They also recalled the importance of new religions and neo-paganism in Nazi ideology and the anti-Christian nature of Hitler’s regime. One topic of particular interest to Americans in the light of the impending U.S. elections is the constitutional aspect of America’s and Europe’s religious roots.

Keynote speakers were Dr. Hans Apel, Germany’s former Finance and Defense Minister, and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Barry Anderson. Other presenters included Rev. Christian Meissner, national executive secretary of the Protestant caucus of Germany’s governing Christian Democratic Union; Rev. Larry Nichols, a leading Lutheran expert in cults and Satanism in the United States; Professors Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe of the University of Calgary in Canada, both specialists on the influence of new religions on Nazi Germany; Dr. Mark Ruff, associate professor of history at St. Louis University and a foremost specialist on the Christian and specifically Catholic youth in postwar Germany, and of the struggle of Christians under the Nazis; and Professor Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of Rheinischer Merkur, one of Germany’s most distinguished newspapers. Several Concordia Seminary faculty and staff members also participated.

The conference featured a Winzerfest (wine festival), organized in cooperation with the town of Hermann, Mo., the heart of Missouriwine country; plus exhibitions and presentations of the Concordia Historical Institute, the German American Heritage Society and Concordia Publishing House.

“German Days at the Sem” opened with a bilingual matins service on Friday, Oct. 24, in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus. The conference concluded on Saturday with a Bach at the Sem performance in the Seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus.

“‘German Days II’ was a stunning event in three respects,” commented Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, director of the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life. “Stunning was the scholarship of presenters showing the 19th-century atheist and neo-pagan roots of Nazism. Stunning were the assessments of the decline of Christianity in Germany and the chances of its revival. And stunning was the beauty of the Bach at the Sem concert, which crowned this conference.”

The Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life is the successor of the Concordia Seminary Institute on Lay Vocation. CLTPL is an affiliate of the Seminary; its mission is to project Lutheran thought to the secular realm.

For information on purchasing recordings of the presentations, call Chad Lakies at 314-505-7238 or e-mail center@csl.edu.