Action "Luther condoms" stopped © KNA
A Dusseldorf youth church wanted to use Luther slogans on condoms to promote the anniversary of the Reformation. The Rhenish regional church stopped the action – and is now earning criticism from Protestant youth representatives for it.
The campaign of a Dusseldorf youth church was a "thoroughly provocative approach to the Reformation anniversary," four of the eight youth delegates of the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) explained in an open letter to the Rhineland's chief church councilor Klaus Eberl. "We very much regret the discontinuation of the campaign brought about 'from above'."Eberl wants to make the signatories of the letter an offer of discussion and defended the action of the regional church in a video message.
Funny sayings – funny effect?
"As the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, we have nothing against sex or condoms – and certainly nothing against the Reformation," Eberl said in the video, which was circulated on the Rhineland church's presidential blog. Sayings like "Here I stand, I can't help it" on condom wrappers were meant to sound funny, but could bring back bad memories for victims of sexual violence. The theologian announced that the condoms collected would now be passed on to the AIDS aid organization without their wrappers.
The Protestant Youth Church in Dusseldorf had distributed condoms with provocative slogans to youth facilities that were open in the year of 500. Reformation anniversary to draw attention to the messages of Martin Luther (1483-1546). The background of the slogans – such as "For whores and saints" – was only revealed via a website that has since been deleted. The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland stopped the campaign shortly after its launch.
Breaking up a conservative image
The four EKD youth delegates conceded that "under certain circumstances not every imprint had been happily chosen". But instead of stopping the entire campaign and calling for the destruction of all condoms, it would have been preferable to withdraw those deemed problematic, the letter said. The action of the youth church was a commendable attempt to break up the partly "conservative image of the church" in order to come into contact with young people in an unconventional way. "Who should be allowed to be provocative, if not the Protestant youth?"
Similar to Eberl, the Rhineland youth pastor Simone Enthofer criticized last week that the allusions to Luther quotations, which were taken out of their historical context, had a sexist effect when isolated on a condom wrapper. They violate the dignity of men, women, girls and boys.