Reuters, PBS Noted Faith's Role in Fall of Berlin Wall

I believe in miracles. They happen everyday.

Like Reuters, of all news outlets, acknowledging the role that religious faith played in the dissident movements in East Germany leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey picked up on that in a November 9 post at Get Religion yesterday:

With Bon Jovi, Angela Merkel and Mikhail Gorbachev likely to steal the spotlight at the Berlin wall 20th anniversary celebration, Reuters’ Tom Heneghan says Protestant leaders feel overlooked:

“Any reporter in Berlin in the tense weeks before Nov. 9, 1989 knew the Protestant (mostly Lutheran) churches sheltered dissidents and was working for reform,” he writes.

“The many anniversary celebrations, documentaries and discussions now underway across Germany seem to focus mostly on how fearless street protesters and astute politicians pulled off the ‘peaceful revolution’ that ended communism.”

Heneghan spoke with East German theologian Richard Schroder about the German media’s role for Reuters’ religion blog:

Most politicians and journalists come from western Germany, he said, and had no experience of the underground activity bubbling below East Germany’s calm surface during the 1980s. Because 3/4 of eastern Germans belong to no church, the westerners underestimate the influence the churches had, even among the non-religious. This is the image that is now being repeated in speeches and television documentaries around Germany, Schroder said.

In 1982, Heneghan explains, Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church mixed Gospel readings with political debates in their services, and because police did not break up church services, it offered freedom of speech that dissidents couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s temping to blockquote the entire post, but read for yourself. Heneghan also has a separate post focusing on his interview with Shroder. The Wall Street Journal also offers a look at their archives with the following article headlined “Prayer Services Opened Door for Peaceful Street Protests.”

Bailey went on to give kudos to PBS's "Religion & Ethics" and the Christian Science Monitor for their coverage of the anniversary that highlighted religious dissidents, but added that she found it odd that the New York Times "profiled [evangelical Lutheran Rev. Christian] Fuhrer two years ago" but didn't "include him or mention any church in their extensive coverage of the [20th] anniversary [of the fall of the Berlin Wall]."

"Among all the coverage of the anniversary celebrations, it’s good to see a nod to the importance of religion in the wall’s fall. Let us know if you see more," Bailey concluded.

Religion Christianity New York Times Wire Services/Media Companies Reuters PBS Online Media Blogs History Sarah Pulliam Bailey