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April 13, 2016 7:20 am

Dutch Protestant Church Issues Official Condemnation of Martin Luther’s Antisemitic Teachings

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"Portrait of Martin Luther" by Lucas Müller from 1528. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

“Portrait of Martin Luther” by Lucas Müller from 1528. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) denounced on Monday the five centuries-old antisemitic teachings by founder Martin Luther, the NL Times reported.

The first-of-its-kind condemnation from the PKN states that the church “absolutely disagrees” with Luther’s antisemitism, adding that it is reflective of the “dark pages” in Lutheran history.

In 1543, Luther wrote a treatise titled On the Jews and their Lies, in which he advocated labor camps, the burning of synagogues and Jewish schools and the confiscation of Jewish property and money. Referring to Jews as “poisonous envenomed worms” and “base, whoring people,” Luther said Jews should not be shown mercy or kindness.

Rabbi Raphael Evans, of the Dutch Jewish umbrella organization NIK, hailed the PKN’s declaration, but said it may not be enough. “I sometimes get the question whether the excuses now are still necessary, given the declaration by the Lutheran World Federation back in 1983. However, I fear that warning against antisemitism is never sufficient,” he was quoted as stating by the World Jewish Congress.

The PKN’s proclamation follows a November declaration by the Lutheran Church in Germany (EKD) condemning Luther’s antisemitism ahead of the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. “We do not close our eyes to the mistakes made by the Reformers and Reformation churches and their involvement in guilt,” it stated. “The Reformers operated within a tradition of anti-Judaic thought patterns, the roots of which reached back to the early church…In the lead-up to the Reformation anniversary we cannot bypass this history of guilt. The fact that Luther’s anti-Judaic recommendations later in life were a source for Nazi antisemitism is a further burden weighing on the Protestant churches in Germany.”

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