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Anti-clericalism describes a position of anti-elitist motivation within religious communities that is directed against the clergy . In Christianity , especially in the Protestant and Reformation churches, such a position is often based on arguments that refer to the priesthood of all believers (cf. Ex 19.6  LUT ; 1 Petr 2.9f  LUT ).

Outside of religious communities, anti-clericalism is directed against the influence of the clergy on society. In many cases, this criticism led to an extensive separation of church and state or to pronounced secularism .

There were anti-clerical tendencies and actions in the French Revolution . With the representatives of the first and second class (ie the clergy) the principle of the social class order was attacked.

The term overlaps with the terms Kirchenkampf and Kulturkampf .

Church fight, culture fight

The church struggle in a narrower sense describes the conflict between Protestant Christians of the Confessing Church and German Christians from 1933 to around the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. In a broader sense, the epoch of German church history in the time of National Socialism is often referred to as such. In the second case, the term includes

  • the struggle of the Nazi state against the Protestant, partly also the Catholic Church and its conventional organizational structures, with the aim of harmonization
  • the struggle of National Socialists inside and outside the churches against denominational Christianity , in order to make it compatible with the Nazi ideology through “de-Jewification” and / or to replace it with a “specific” religiosity
  • the defensive struggle of Christian groups and particular churches against these efforts.

Critical church historiography disputes that the latter is to be regarded as a general characteristic of that epoch. The attitude of the churches towards the Third Reich is received as an ambivalent attitude “between adaptation and resistance”.

As a synonym for church struggles , the term Kulturkampf has established itself in various contexts :


Individual evidence

  1. Selected bibliography on the resistance against National Socialism . Website of the Center for Contemporary History, accessed on March 29, 2016.
  2. Leonore Siegele-Wenschkewitz : The churches between adaptation and resistance in the Third Reich. in: Barmer Theological Declaration 1934–1984. Luther Verlag, Bielefeld 1984, ISBN 3-7858-0287-0 , pp. 11-29.