If you go to [this site], you will find a story entitled “Sing a little louder”—an account of German Christian detachment from the Jewish holocaust in the second World War. As the story goes, a small German country church was located near a rail line that transported Jews to certain death in a concentration camp. Each Sunday the congregation would hear the train passing their church with occasional cries of people in the cattle-cars. Their response was to sing hymns louder to drown out the sound. I first heard this story a few years ago—whether it’s true or not, I don’t know—but it sickened me.
DISDAIN FOR CHRISTIANS: What we do know from the historical record is that much of Germany’s Protestant Christians were too timid to stand up against anti-human racial doctrines and anti-Christian declarations of the Nazis. Adolph Hitler’s disdain was captured in a comment he made about German Protestants: “You can do anything you want with them. . . . They will submit. . . . They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.”
There were, of course, shining and courageous examples of Protestant resistance to the Nazi agenda, such as Franz Hildebrandt, Reverend Martin Niemöller of the Church of Jesus Christ in the affluent Berlin suburb of Dahlem, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Pastor Niemöller and the congregation became symbols of resistance to Nazi racial doctrines and anti-Christian declarations of Nazi leaders. They internalized Jesus’ exhortations to be “salt and light” in a hostile world? It helped to explain Nazi contempt for the German Protestant church.
But for the most part, a majority of Protestants were too timid to resist the radical cultural climate of Nazi Germany. For years I could not understand such shocking behavior of Christ’s followers. But then I remember that the disciples abandoned Christ in His hour of need and Peter denied Him.
How can I be critical of German Christians of the Nazi era when many Christians of my era were silent, during the 1970s – 1990s, about the abortion holocaust, and many still have not found their tongues? How can I stand in judgment of others when I championed the abortion of my first child? We are all sinful, weak people who must confess our sin. With God’s help, perhaps we will learn from the history of violence against the weak and stand up en masse against the next assault against the vulnerable: Euthanasia and assisted suicide. Put away timidity or indifference, fellow follower of Christ! Put on the armor of God to do battle with the forces of evil that are here!
Take courage, God is with us. Stand and militate for the sanctity of every human life. The sick, dying, and disabled do not need euthanasia or assisted suicide; they need proper care and love. People do not need to live and die in unbearable pain. 21st Century pain management can relieve all physical pain.
Write to your elected officials at state, provincial, and national levels and demand life-affirming social policies and legislation be enacted to ensure quality palliative care and pain relief for people when they need it. Develop proactive church outreaches to families facing end-of-life issues or develop respite services for families living with disabilities. Include them in your church life. Develop Christian hospice services that always affirm life and never ends or denies life.
Do not listen to those who tell you to downplay or hide your Christian faith. We must be unremitting witnesses for the Jesus Christ who is the light and life of humanity during this dark and terrible juncture in North American history, and always.
Mark Davis Pickup has lived with aggressive multiple sclerosis for over 28 years. Although electric wheelchair dependent, Mark has spoken across the United States and Canada promoting the sanctity, dignity, and equality of all human life. He has addressed politicians and legislative committees (both Canadian and American), university forums, hospital medical staffs, religious and denominational leaders, community groups, and organizations about the critical importance of protecting all human life from conception to natural death. Mark is also a widely published writer on bioethical and Christian issues. He writes a column for Canada’s Western Catholic Reporter newspaper. Mark is the recipient of numerous awards including the Monsignor Bill Irwin Award for Ethical Excellence, the William Kurelek Award for fostering respect and appreciation for the dignity of human life (Canada), and a Governor General’s Medal for Community Service.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at http://www.humanlifematters.org/2014/02/christians-in-darkening-age-such-as-this.html.