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The spiritual migration of some refugees

The spiritual migration of some refugees

As refugees flood Germany and other European communities, a surprising number of people raised Muslim are choosing to adopt Christianity and be baptized in their new homes.

Kirsten Grieshaber writes for AP about one Lutheran Church’s experience in Berlin:

Mohammed Ali Zonoobi bends his head as the priest pours holy water over his black hair. “Will you break away from Satan and his evil deeds?” pastor Gottfried Martens asks the Iranian refugee. “Will you break away from Islam?”

“Yes,” Zonoobi fervently replies. Spreading his hands in blessing, Martens then baptizes the man “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”

Mohammed is now Martin — no longer Muslim, but Christian.

Zonoobi, a carpenter from the Iranian city of Shiraz, arrived in Germany with his wife and two children five months ago. He is one of hundreds of mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity at the evangelical Trinity Church in a leafy Berlin neighborhood….

…Other Christian communities across Germany, among them Lutheran churches in Hannover and the Rhineland, have also reported growing numbers of Iranians converting to Christendom. There are no exact numbers on how many Muslims have converted in Germany in recent years — and they are a tiny minority compared to the country’s overall 4 million Muslims. But at least for Berlin, Martens describes the number of conversions as nothing short of a “miracle.” And he says he has at least another 80 people — mostly refugees from Iran and a few Afghans — waiting to be baptized.


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Perhaps the priest and all using those words of baptism consider not the practice of Islam to be works of Satan, but of just any sin that may have occurred before being baptized into the body of Christ? I think you may be reading too much into it.

thanks for the comment, please use your first and last names next time 🙂 the Editors

Marylin Day

Why is this church equating Islam with evil? Evangelizing is fine but, good grief, don’t make other religions look horrible in the process.

Lynn Hade

I am very disturbed by the question that equates Islam with ‘evil ways.’ ! NOT OK. And, along the lines Ann is thinking, what is the Christian community doing to reach out and support non-fundamentalist mosques? How can the Church support them in teaching the beauty of their own tradition?

JC Fisher

“Will you break away from Satan and his evil deeds?” pastor Gottfried Martens asks the Iranian refugee. “Will you break away from Islam?”

To me, that’s blasphemous. Our baptismal covenant vows a break from Satan, and a trusting turning to Christ. But besides Satan, there is NO specific named rejection of a prior belief-system. [Any overlaps between the prior belief-system and Satan *OR* the Triune God, is for the baptizand, in community, to discern!]

God rejects NOTHING that God has made: that includes what’s in the minds&hearts of the Imago Dei. If TEC tried to introduce something like the above to the baptismal covenant, I’d fight it tooth&nail (and, losing this fight, walk away to a more faithful church). I’m not worried that will happen in TEC. But I wonder what our ecumenical partners in the ELCA have to say about it?

Ann Fontaine

I wonder if it more a case of becoming acculturated or lack of much grounding in original faith or a desire to rid of the religion they see as the problem? Would be interested to hear what they have to say.

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