What's so Christian about Germany's Christian Democrats?

After German voters sent the Christian Democrats -- led by Chancellor Angela Merkel -- back to power with 13 more seats, it seemed appropriate to ask: In a secular country, what exactly makes it "Christian?" 

The Christian Democratic Union says its "policies are based on theChristian view of Man and his responsibilities before God." HoweverGermans shy away from being connected with other versions of politicalChristianity.

Christianity Today recently interviewed Merke's minister of state on this issue. "Germans don't want to be called evangelical because theyare labeled by an image dominated by American evangelicals," Grohe said. He does want to see more German Christians discussing their faith in public, mixing personal with civil life, citing the United Kingdom as an example where religion and politics mix well.

Fighting abortion rights is an important issue for German Christians, but Grohe said fighting poverty and climate change are also imperative.

Talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, Grohe said, "We are still struggling to put together two very different societies." This is especially evident looking at the electoral map from the recent election. (Sorry it is in French, scroll on the semi-circle to see how each party did in each region)

The former East Germany had the strongest support for The Left and the least support for the Christian Democrats. This is paralleled in East Berlin and West Berlin. The difference is more for political reasons than for religious reasons, but anti-religious feelings in Eastern Germany are prevalent.

"In East Germany, there's still a strong non-religious presence. Religion is for your grandma," Grohe said. "People say they forgot they forgot God."

Grohe said the pacifist aspects of the religion don't play much of a role in German politics, most people who want out of Afghanistan want out because they think it is unwinnable, not because of any feeling of religious necessity. However, a dislike for Islam is present in some German Christians.

"I'm very shocked when I see Christians talking hatefully about Muslims," he said. "When I talk about the need for freedom to build Islamic mosques, I receive shameful letters from Christians filled with hate." 

Update: The link to the Christianity Today interview is down, but should be working again soon. 

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images 


Chicago loses

So much for that presidential pitch:

Rio de Janeiro and Madrid are vying to be the host of the 2016 Olympic Games, after Chicago and Tokyo were eliminated by the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo secured the fewest of the 95 votes available in the second round at the meeting in Copenhagen. Chicago was knocked out in the first round vote.

Cities will be eliminated until one secures a majority with the winner set to be announced after 1730 BST.

Chicago's early exit was a surprise, with bookmakers making them favourites.

For reasons my colleague Annie Lowrey explained, Chicago may have actually doged a bullet today. But it's still pretty embarassing for Obama, who traveled to Copenhagen to make a last minute pitch for Chicago. 

One has to imagine the White House thought that Chicago had this in the bag if President Obama was willing to take time away from debates on health care, Afghanistan, and Iran to advocate for his hometown. As John Hoberman wrote on the site this week:

If he fails, the right wing will pillory him as a dilettante who should have kept his eye on weightier affairs of state. Nor would a "loss" to the president of Brazil or the prime minister of Spain do much for Mr. Obama's international stature. All of this suggests that Obama should have left well enough alone and stayed at home.

More to come.