Berlin (kath.net, February 26, 2016). “In Germany, congregations are growing, and there are mass baptisms of refugees in swimming pools.” So reports Die Tagesschau, a German television news program. The refugees, who come from Iran and Pakistan, were unable to practice their Christian faith in their native countries. A quick dip in the pool, just a second under water, and “afterwards it is no longer the way it was for Benjamin.” Through his baptism in a swimming pool in Hamburg by the pastor of the Persian congregation, the 25-year-old Iranian named Benjamin became a Christian.
In his native country, Muslims who convert to Christianity are liable to the death penalty, explained ARD, a German public television network, and it gave the radiantly joyful baptized man a chance to speak to its viewers: “Today my new life begins. Now I belong to Jesus.” At the edge of the pool another 70 candidates for baptism wait in white clothing. This year alone, 600 persons have already been baptized in this Persian congregation in Hamburg, Germany. The Evangelical-Lutheran Trinity Church in Berlin-Steglitz too has baptized more than 180 people in the past year, and the courses on the faith currently being taught there are full.
Albert Babajan, pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Hamburg, told Die Tagesschau that many of the converts expressed their disappointment about Islam. Just like Benjamin: “In Iran I began to look into various religions. Then I really asked myself why I live all the time in fear.”
In any case this poses a problem for the civil authorities, because baptism is a so-called “self-created reason for fleeing” [to Germany], which leads to the “granting of protection”, inasmuch as “the applicant for asylum is threatened with persecution in his homeland on account of his conversion to another faith”. The authorities examine whether the newly baptized person meant his conversion seriously; the churches and the authorities do not always agree in their assessments. Their hearings would have very different results.
At any rate, the ARD report neither presents converts to the Catholic Church nor consults Catholic representatives on this topic. The reasons for this are not yet known.
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