Advertisement of Bible verses by Christian organizations in public spaces is currently being challenged by Germany’s political group, The Left/Pirates.
According to Evangelical Focus Europe, to ensure that Bible verses are not offending anyone, Stuttgart’s parliamentary group has requested for new advertising guidelines in the city trains (S-Bahn). The leftist group said that the Bible verses on advertising spots do not represent the region’s welcoming culture.
The group believes that the users of public transport feel uncomfortable with the “evangelical” and “partly aggressive missionary messages” and said that it should “not be a place of indoctrination,” local newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung wrote.
Publicizing Bible verses in Stuttgart is led by a non-profit evangelistic association, South German Poster Mission. Advertisement on buses, trains and other public places are paid by the association and their evangelistic efforts are financed by the churches and Christians’ donations. The group was founded in 1972 and aims to “spread the Word of God with verses of the Bible on advertising posters,” Pro Medien Magazin reportedly illustrated.
The leftist political group said that organizations who are allowed to purchase advertising spaces should demonstrate “more neutrality in the worldviews” and thus requesting that advertisement of Bible verses and similar religious contents in Stuttgart’s metro system to be halted.
The group’s statement was opposed by the Protestant Church in Württemberg saying that the Bible verses do not discriminate against anyone with other beliefs and that they actually give hope and strength to people. The church has contributed to the Bible verses campaign with 12,200 Euros.
In addition, the right to purchase advertising spaces for Bible verses of private religious groups is also defended by the Evangelical Working Group, locally known as Evangelischer Arbeitskreis (EAK), of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union. The group believes that campaigns facilitated by any religious group or worldview has no restriction and that plural worldviews can be presented in such a free society.
“Bible verses in the public arena have a long tradition in our land: church buildings often continue to be in the centre of towns, and in many facades of old houses Christian blessings are still written,” EAK stated.
South German Poster Mission’s spokesperson reportedly confessed to Idea, a German news agency, that sharing about Jesus Christ utilizing advertising spaces has become more difficult in Germany.
According to Pew Research Center, Germany has seen a sharp decline in the number of Protestants based on its records between 1950 and 2010. The country’s Protestants account for 59% of Germany’s population in 1950 but fell to 29% by 2010.
The report said that the nationwide decline in the number of German Protestants “is apparent when looking separately at East and West Germany”.
The decline in East Germany, predominantly Protestant in 1949, is considered to be the result of repression, marginalization and persecution during the decades-long communist rule.
On the other hand, Western Germany’s decline can be attributed to two aspects. First, the “strong Catholic identity forged from years of existence as a minority religion” and secondly, the “doctrinal differences over salvation that make formal church involvement more necessary for Catholics than for Protestants,” the research center explained.