Olaf Latzel (born November 1967 in Biedenkopf ) is a German Protestant clergyman . He is pastor of the St. Martini congregation in Bremen . This is a member of the Bremen Evangelical Church (BEK), a member church of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), and works in the Evangelical Alliance Bremen . His strictly conservative positions, especially his radical rejection of Islam and homosexuality , repeatedly led to controversy.
Latzel grew up in a Catholic family, attended school in Bad Laasphe from 1974 to 1987 and, according to his own statement, experienced his “ spiritual rebirth ” in 1982 . From 1987 to 1994 he studied Protestant theology in Marburg . After two years at the youth welfare office in Frankfurt , he became vicar in Rauischholzhausen in 1996 . He took up his first pastor's position in 1998 in the Siegen districts of Trupbach and Seelbach in the Westphalian regional church . From 2000 to 2007 he was a consultant for pastoral care at the Siegen fire department. On December 2nd, 2007 he was appointed pastor of the St. Martini congregation in Bremen and succeeded Jens Motschmann .
Latzel became publicly known soon after he took office in St. Martini through his consistent advocacy of the strictly conservative municipal code. Among other things, he rejects the blessing of same-sex couples and the ordination of women . In May 2008, Latzel offered the community rooms for the controversial seminar “Understanding Homosexuality - Opportunity for Change” after it had been unloaded again under public pressure from the then Christival . In June 2008, Latzel's congregation refused to appear in a gown and preach from the pulpit due to the biblical prohibition of women teaching a pastor who was supposed to lead a funeral service in the Martini church (see ordination of women ). Latzel is part of the “Missionary Church Working Group” in Bremen.
On January 18, 2015, Latzel preached a controversial sermon on a section of the Biblical Book of Judges in which Gideon destroyed the pagan shrines of his hometown. According to Latzel, today's Christians have a duty to follow this example and, for example , to remove talismans , amulets and Buddha statues from their homes. He described the Buddha as a "fat, old, fat gentleman", the Islamic sugar festival as "nonsense" and Catholic relics as "dirt". Furthermore Latzel Gideon was referring to the example of clear demarcation of Christianity from Islam . Literally he said:
- “We need clear preaching of Jesus Christ. And to keep saying clearly: There is only one true God. We cannot have anything in common with Islam. That does not mean - I also say this very clearly - that we do not have to meet Muslims in love and closeness. This is very important. God distinguishes between sin and the sinner. Sin and sinners are different. The absolute no to sin, but yes to the sinner. We have to meet people of the Muslim faith in love and mercy! And if they are persecuted, then we have to face them. That is our job as Christians. So as not to be misunderstood. It is our task to really meet them with charity. "
- “Fear of the world must not lead us to let go of the fear of the Lord. Thats more important. And you have to make cuts, like Gideon here. Cuts - and I say that quite deliberately. The name Gideon means 'Hacker'! 'Hacker', yes? It's not that little, according to the motto: 'I'll hang a sheet over the ashera so that it's not seen, then I just expressed my protest, didn't I?' or: 'I'll secretly put graffiti on it at night.' God says, 'Blow! Burn! Chop! Draw cuts! ' Yes, that's asking a lot. Yes, you're scared. And now you may be thinking of the situations where you are challenged. But that's not what I'm asking for. This is what our Lord and God demands. We're supposed to make the cuts there. Even in a fatherland where the Chancellor declares, with a single line, don't you? To repeat these wrong things that Federal President Wulff had said, don't you ?: 'Islam belongs to Germany.' Islam does not belong to Germany. The Muslims who live here - yes, absolutely. But Islam has nothing to do with God, of whom it says in the preamble of our Basic Law: 'Conscious of his responsibility before God and people [...]'. "
Latzel also turned against interreligious services :
- “There is only one true God. We cannot have anything in common with Islam. [...] And when EKD demands: 'No, we have to do this together' - there are joint divine service designs for school openings across the country in the regional churches, right? The pastor and the imam and the Catholic all pray together, don't they? To the supposed one God. That is sin, and it must not be! We have to cleanse ourselves of that, don't we? "
At a “marriage seminar” in his community in October 2019, Latzel said: “These criminals are walking around everywhere from Christopher Street Day, celebrating their parties”. According to the Bible, lived homosexuality is just like adultery a "death-worthy crime", even if one does not have to kill anyone for it. He also spoke of a “devilish” gay lobby and “gender filth”. In the past, unmarried couples would not have been able to rent an apartment. Today one can already be happy when a tenant arrives “not with his sheep or with another man”.
Henning Scherf compares Latzel with "Khomeinis"
During a panel discussion in the run-up to Christival 2008, organized by the Bremen State Association of Green Youth with the participation of the Green Member of the Bundestag Volker Beck , Annegret Siebe, spokeswoman for the State Association of Pro Familia , and Olaf Latzel, controversies about homosexuality, abortion and biblically based positions should be in can be clarified in an "open dialogue". Latzel represented the conservative position of his community and demanded that the Bible should be used more as the basis of law, which prompted Bremen's former mayor and Senate President Henning Scherf to comment: “It is these Khomeinis that we have to protect our constitution from. You can tell your Pastor Latzel that! "
Homily January 18, 2015
The secretary (theological representative) of the Bremen Evangelical Church (BEK), Renke Brahms , criticized the statements in Latzel's sermon on January 18, 2015 and called them “spiritual arson”. “The formulations are unbearable and suitable for promoting violence against strangers, people of different faith or asylum seekers,” warned Brahms. The BEK distances itself from any message that insults or insults other forms of belief in the name of the Christian faith. In a statement, the church committee of the Bremen Evangelical Church asked "the Muslim, Buddhist and Catholic interlocutors as well as all Bremen citizens who were discriminated against by Pastor Latzel and insulted in their religious feelings and values or liturgical traditions for an apology" and criticized "the entire style of the sermon".
Employees from social institutions of the BEK wrote a paper with the title “Resolution for a variety of religions and against hate preachers”. In it they criticized Latzel's statements and called on the board of directors of the St. Martini congregation, which had stood behind Latzel, to act. Should there be no reaction, "it would be unbearable for this community to remain in the BEK".
Several dozen pastors of the Evangelical Church in Bremen, including many emeriti , demonstrated publicly on February 4, 2015 on the steps of the Bremen Cathedral with posters “Bremen is colorful! We live diversity ”against the sermon of your colleague.
Latzel himself defended his sermon by stating that he was not xenophobic, but against " religious confusion ". For him there is only one God, and that is what he preaches to the believers in his community. Latzel told Radio Bremen that Christians could n't celebrate the Sugar Festival with Muslims any more than Muslims with Christians could celebrate Christmas . It is not about offending religious feelings, but praying together with an imam or a Buddhist does not allow the Bible. Christians based their faith on the Bible and not on the zeitgeist. “The path to salvation alone leads only through Jesus Christ”, the theologian confessed. He likes to be called evangelical and faithful to the Bible, but not as someone who stirs up hatred towards others, he said on the program buten un . Little attention was paid to the fact that in his sermon Latzel had called for loving and compassionate encounters with Muslims and to stand before them if they were persecuted. "It is our job to really meet them in charity."
Radio Bremen reported a wave of support for Latzel through a petition and the Facebook page "Solidarity with Olaf Latzel": "Latzel receives thousands of support on the Internet in portals from Evangelical-conservative Christians." The parish of St. Martini stood behind its pastor. Radio Bremen gave excerpts of the corresponding post from the parish's Facebook page:
- “As a congregation and pastor, we stand for a cosmopolitan and free society [,] in which all people regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religion can live in peace with one another. As a congregation and pastor, we stand for religious freedom and absolute non-violence among the people in Bremen, in Germany and in the world. "
The board of directors of the St. Martini Congregation published an official statement on the sermon on February 8, 2015, in which it says: “The board and the congregation are grateful for the clear, Bible-oriented preaching of their pastor's words. The board of directors stands united behind the pastor of the congregation. ”The president of the Evangelical Community Association Siegerland-Wittgenstein, where Latzel was pastor before moving to Bremen, declared that he was fully committed to the content of the sermon. The Christian media predominantly criticized Latzel's choice of words, but conservative media also expressly praised his sermon.
Marriage seminar in October 2019
The leadership of the Evangelical Church in Bremen condemned Latzel's statements on homosexuality at a marriage seminar in October 2019 "in the strongest possible way". As a result, “people would be degraded, insulted and their dignity injured”. The limit of what is bearable has now been exceeded. Bremen's church president Edda Bosse also heavily criticized Latzel in a speech on YouTube.
When asked by Spiegel.de, the EKD Council Chairman Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said: “Jesus stands for radical human love. It is the exact opposite of the intolerance that speaks from the words of Olaf Latzel. "
Latzel made a statement on the allegations. In it he claimed that by the word “criminal” he only meant those “militant aggressors” who repeatedly attacked and defamed him and his community. He did not expressly say so in his lecture in free speech, but this reference was clear to the audience. As examples of the aggression, he cited death threats, spray slogans such as "God is gay" and a "worship service disruption" by kissing homosexual couples. This incident was apparently a "kiss-in" from 2008, eleven years before the marriage seminar. In his statement, he apologized in the event that the impression was created that he considered all homosexuals to be criminals. He did not relativize his other statements. Rather, he insisted that homosexuality was a sin, as was greed for money, adultery, revenge, or alcoholism. However, the following applies: “No to sin”, but “Yes to the sinner”.
On May 2, 2020, an online petition to the Bremen Evangelical Church against Latzel's suspension was launched, which was signed by around 19,000 people within a month. The signatures were handed over on June 4, 2020. The church does not actually accept any petitions, but they did not want to offend the petitioners when they stood at the door. Another petition calling for "No hate sermons - get rid of Latzel!" Was launched on May 14, 2020 and six weeks later it was signed almost 13,000 times (according to Change.org ).
More than a hundred pastors and other church workers from Bremen turned against Latzel in a statement and spoke of "fundamentalist hate preachers" who arbitrarily dealt with biblical quotations. "In their hands the Bible becomes a weapon." According to the Latzel critics, homosexuality is part of the "basic equipment of mankind", just as there are left-handed people. Latzel also shows a pattern from the environment of right-wing extremists: First people are discriminated, then you talk yourself out of a misunderstanding and "take refuge in the role of victim".
On June 11, 2020, the Protestant theologian Meik Gerhards defended Latzel's criticism of the dissolution of the "creation norm" of (heterosexual) marriage and family in an extensive open letter to Church President Bosse Latzel's as fundamentally justified: It corresponds to the biblical testimony and the majority opinion in the international ecumenism. However, Gerhards does not allow himself to judge the question of disciplinary proceedings.
The confessional movement No other gospel also issued a statement in which it criticized the measures of the BEK and their subordination to the state as non-biblical.
The Evangelical Lutheran Brethren Congregation of Holzminden was withdrawn from the rooms promised by the local St. Michaelis Church for an evangelism on September 26, 2015 after it became known that Latzel would preach, who fundamentally represents a different position than the Evangelical Lutheran Regional Church of Hanover . The evangelism was moved to a nearby tent, where Latzel complained in front of around 600 participants "that in many places in the church 'humanistic do-gooders' have replaced the word of God."
According to Latzel, an advertisement with the statement of the Dutch evangelist Corrie ten Boom in the Weser-Kurier on December 6, 2015, “Whoever does not have Jesus as a lawyer, he will meet him as a judge” wanted to draw his community 's attention to the coming judgment of God . The publication of another advertisement on December 20, 2015 with the invitation “Come to me, all of you who are troublesome and burdened, I want to refresh you!” (Jesus in Matthew 11:28) rejected the newspaper because of too many complaints the first off.
According to Latzel, the number of people who attended St. Martini's services rose from around 300 to 400 in the first quarter of 2015 - some from far away - and that of those who listened to his sermons on YouTube and the congregation's website rose from 300 to 4,000 to 5,000 a week. In the first quarter of 2018, his YouTube channel, where many of his sermons are published (mostly the sound with a still image of his sermon topics), had around 4,700 subscribers; his speeches were accessed between 3,100 and 7,300 times. Since the Corona crisis from February 2020, when personal attendance at church services was banned, Latzel has been broadcasting recordings or live streams of his church services without visitors, which were viewed between 10,000 and 70,000 times (April 26, 2020). The number of subscribers to his YouTube channel rose to over 20,000 (July 6, 2020).
Harsh general criticism of the more than 20,000 subscribers of the YouTube channel Latzels was exercised by his colleague Bernd Klingbeil-Jahr from the Evangelical Church of Peace in Bremen, founder of an “alliance for respect” against Latzel. In a contribution to the program “buten un binnen” on Radio Bremen, he described them as “a mixed field of Christian fundamentalists and fascists”. "Out of this brown mob" actions would be planned and carried out "that change this society."
In April 2020 Latzel reported that he had been the target of "hate attacks" by unknown perpetrators who could be assigned to the "left scene" since March of that year. There were graffiti and property damage to the church and Latzel's property, and a divine service livestream during the COVID-19 pandemic was disrupted by spam with "hate speech" and pornography. Latzel filed a criminal complaint, which triggered increased nightly police checks and the involvement of the state security. Shortly before his last service for the time being on July 5, 2020, a woman stood in front of St. Martini's Church to protest against Latzel with her bare breasts painted in rainbow colors.
- Regarding the 2015 sermon
The Bremen Evangelical Church strongly condemned Latzel's sermon, but waived disciplinary measures.
In what was probably a one-time decision by a German state parliament, the Bremen citizens turned against Latzel's sermon. On February 18, 2015, the majority approved a resolution by the party “ Die Linke ”, which states: “The Bremen citizenship welcomes the distancing of the Bremen Evangelical Church and the employees against the inciting and degrading sermon by Pastor Olaf Latzel. The statements in the sermon of January 18, 2015 are absolutely out of the question and must not remain without consequences. ”However, the resolution also met with criticism. The head of the Church Law Institute of the EKD , Hans Michael Heinig (Göttingen), declared that state organs are obliged to observe the principle of neutrality with regard to religious questions. Latzel himself was “very surprised” that “the SED successor party Die Linke” told pastors “what they have to believe and preach”.
The public prosecutor's office in Bremen checked whether Latzel might have fulfilled criminal offenses such as sedition or insulting a religious community . At the end of April 2015, however, she announced that she would not initiate a formal investigation against Latzel. His statements are covered by the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of opinion and freedom of religion.
- Regarding the marriage seminar 2019
Due to a criminal complaint because of Latzel's statements at the marriage seminar on October 19, 2019, the public prosecutor's office opened an investigation into suspicion of sedition in April 2020.
On May 17, 2020, the church council of the Latzels congregation issued a statement in which it sided with it and denied the responsibility of the BEK church committee. On May 18, 2020, the church committee initiated disciplinary proceedings against Latzel, but these were initially suspended due to the ongoing criminal investigations. According to Johann Daniel Noltenius, head of the BEK church chancellery, a suspension would not be legally compliant, and the disciplinary proceedings would only be resumed if the public prosecutor classifies Latzel's statements as a criminal offense.
Because his statements could disturb the public peace and incite hatred against homosexual people and violate human dignity, the public prosecutor's office brought indictments of sedition in July 2020. The district court then decides whether to open a main hearing; possibly not before the last quarter of 2020, according to a court spokeswoman.
After a service meeting between the church leadership and Latzel on July 3, 2020, Latzel went on vacation from July 9 to August 24, 2020, during which possible legal measures were suspended. According to a church spokeswoman, it was agreed that Latzel would not appear in public during this time and that another official meeting would take place in mid-August to discuss how to proceed; there was no preaching ban (contrary to initial information). On July 5, 2020, Latzel held a service which, as before, was broadcast via live stream, followed online by nearly 2,600 guests and viewed around 35,000 times (YouTube information on July 9, 2020). At the end of this (from around the 40th video minute) the church council informed the congregation about the result of the service conversation.
The second service discussion between the church leadership and Latzel in mid-August 2020 showed that he was allowed to resume his regular work after his vacation and thus to preach again. However, Latzel had "particularly committed to moderation in the context of his preaching mandate". Confidentiality was agreed on the further content of the conversation. The criminal proceedings against Latzel (in which the acceptance of the lawsuit will be decided in September 2020 at the earliest) as well as the church disciplinary proceedings that have been suspended until its conclusion remain unaffected.
- "The accusations are absurd". jungefreiheit.de, February 27, 2015, accessed on May 15, 2020 .
- municipalities. Evangelische Allianz Bremen eV, accessed on August 29, 2018 .
- Pastor Olaf Latzel sharply criticizes the Protestant Church. idea , February 26, 2015, accessed August 29, 2018 .
- The information in this section largely followed the presentation on Latzel's own page on Google+ , which has no longer been available since April 2019. In the meantime, his vita can be found in the “Channel Info” of his YouTube channel .
- Municipal. Evangelical St. Martini Congregation Bremen, July 2000, accessed on August 29, 2018 .
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- Audio recording of Pastor Latzel's sermon on January 18, 2015. Retrieved on February 5, 2015 .
- Olaf Latzel: The Sermon: To Gideon, Learning to Purify From Foreign Gods, January 18, 2015. In: evangelisch.de , February 3, 2015.
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- Controversial sermon - Supreme theologian distances himself from pastor ( Memento from January 28, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). In: Radio Bremen .
- Statement of the church committee of the Bremen Evangelical Church on the sermon of Pastor Latzel from January 18, 2015 in the inner city parish of St. Martini and on the public debate in Bremen that this triggered. (PDF) Bremen Evangelical Church, February 12, 2015, accessed on April 17, 2019 .
- Christian Weth: Controversial sermon by Olaf Latzel - employees demand disciplinary steps ( Memento from February 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). In: Weser courier .
- "It is unbearable for us" . In: evangelisch.de , February 5, 2015.
- Accusation: Pastor stirs up hatred . In: Weser-Kurier , January 28, 2015.
- Public prosecutor wants to read sermon . In: per media magazine from January 30, 2015.
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- Statement by the board of the Evangelical St. Martini Congregation in the old town of Bremen on the attacks from the press, politics and the church against our pastor Olaf Latzel in connection with his sermon on January 18, unreservedly to the content of the sermon 2015 . February 8, 2015.
- The Bremen sermon dispute continues to heat the minds , idea , February 16, 2015.
- I am grateful to Pastor Olaf Latzel . Hans Joachim Vieweger in: pro media magazine from February 15, 2015.
- Hate that hits us - Thoughts by Church President Edda Bosse on YouTube , May 30, 2020, accessed on June 12, 2020.
- Björn Schlueter: Latzel case - Bremen church president promotes charity. Nordwest-Zeitung, June 2, 2020, accessed on June 12, 2020 .
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|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German Protestant clergyman|
|DATE OF BIRTH||November 1967|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Biedenkopf|