The 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 theses reveals how faith still matters in German public life—and, crucially, in the nation's politicsby Phoebe Cooke / September 19, 2017 / Leave a comment
In the days ahead of the election a small east German town is brimming with anticipation. Crowds fill the streets, chattering excitedly as they follow signs on vast billboard posters. No, it is not Chancellor Angela Merkel or challenger Martin Schulz who are causing such a stir, but the significant anniversary of the Reformation ringleader.
Whether it’s ten years of nationwide celebrations or the advent of Playmobil’s best-selling bowl-cut figurine, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that October marks 500 years since Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, splitting the Catholic church. But not all are so enamoured with the brainy dissident. Across a poster advertising a Luther summer school, one resident has scrawled: “Enough! What does any of this have to do with me?”
The question is apt in a society which officially operates as a secular state. Despite the prevailing atheism in former east Germany after years of socialist rule—around 52 per cent are registered as non-believers—Christianity is still very present in German life as a whole.