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Jewish Journal

Rev. Fuhrer a foe of injustice

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 13, 2008 | 4:05 pm

A long-time voice for social justice in East Germany and its unified successor, the Rev. Christian Fuhrer is turning 65 and about to begin mandatory retirement. The New York Times made him the Saturday Profile.

CHRISTIAN FÜHRER was born in Leipzig in 1943, during World War II. Aside from how fitting his given name, Christian, is for a minister, his last name, Führer, simply means leader. Yet, for many — especially non-German speakers — the word is all but inseparable from Hitler. In addition to meaning leader, however, it also means guide, appropriate for a spiritual counselor.

A sickly child, he was fascinated by the way Jesus cared for the abject and the outsiders, and from a young age he knew he wanted to follow his father into the ministry. It was not a monastic life, however, but one of involvement that he sought. Pastor Führer cited Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the prominent German Protestant theologian who was part of a plot to overthrow Hitler, and was eventually executed in a concentration camp, as among his greatest influences.

“The church must always be political,” he said, “but there is a difference between political and party-political.”

If only American religious leaders and politicians agreed.

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