German TV Labels Southern Baptists in Iraq as Holy Warriors

Christians Protest Against Accusations, German Baptist Union Criticizes One-Sided Report
( [email protected] ) Jul 02, 2004 11:33 AM EDT

The German television magazine "Panorama" denounced Southern Baptist missionaries in Iraq as “America’s Holy Warriors,” according to a European evangelical news agency. "Idea," based in Wetzlar, Germany reported that the program compared the spiritual and humanitarian activities of Southern Baptist missionaries with Islamic terrorist attacks.

According to the agency, the magazine quoted Baptists saying they are prepared to die for their convictions. Panorama summed it up with the words: “Good times for a Holy War”.

The program was shown on one of the major German television networks June 24. Numerous Christians rang the station up in protest. The German Baptist Union criticized the “one-sided” portrayal of Baptists.

German Baptist spokesman Friedrich Schneider pointed to the fact that not only American but also Arab Baptists have been active in Iraq for a long time. Schneider said that while Arabs choose a more "sensitive" approach than the Americans, it was irresponsible to put politically and theologically conservative Christians on the same level with Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists. The German Baptist Union does not back an “insensitive missionary directness” or a lack of respect for Islam, Schneider pointed out.

The former General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation, Karl Heinz Walter, said Panorama had shown Baptists in “bad light”.

Walter also pointed out that the TV program incorrectly referred to President George W. Bush as a Southern Baptist, although he is in fact a member of the United Methodist Church.

Yet Panorama journalist Volker Steinhoff still insisted that the report contained no factual error. It had focused on the Southern Baptists, not all Baptists, said Steinhoff. "There could be no doubt that their activities had caused much alarm and even hatred in Iraq," he claimed.

The International Mission Board, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, has not yet issued a statement regarding the allegations.