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Founding Manifesto of the Protestant League (1887); Statistics on Membership (1887-1913)

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Dear Protestant co-religionists and national comrades! The Kulturkampf is drawing to a close. But the struggle against Rome will continue: It will last “as long as there is a heretic left in the country,” or, as we believe, until the truth of the Gospel has marched to victory throughout all of Germany. The Protestant people have to start this battle with concerted and sustained force.

At the outset, vigorous resistance is our foremost priority. We must expose every detail of the undermining work of the Jesuit spirit and its agents. We must bring to light falsifications of history, the suspicions cast upon our church, the crippling of our church’s rights, especially the behavior of Roman clergy in the matter of mixed marriages and the education of children resulting from these marriages, and, not least, accommodations of Roman presumption that stem from flawed conceptions of parity, as well as any disavowal of the Protestant faith. Accommodating attitudes must be fought systematically, and disavowals must be made public regardless of the person involved.

The defense, however, must be supported by an offensive attack. Everyone shall get to know the true character and ultimate goals of Romanism, which is increasingly becoming a slave to Jesuitism. In calling for such a struggle, we are well aware of the obligations we must fulfill vis-à-vis our Catholic fellow citizens to prevent the rift of denominational opposition from deepening and widening more and more. Wherever Christian dispositions emerge [among our Catholic fellow citizens] and are active in their midst, there we wish to preserve the bond of the existing religious and moral community and seek to strengthen the love for our common fatherland. No less, though, do we wish to dutifully and conscientiously do our share to open their eyes to the danger threatening themselves first and foremost, that is, the subjugation of any trace of free thinking, even the last little bit, under an alien yoke. And wherever a conscience bound in truth has already voiced protest, we intend to lend a helping hand to give fresh courage to the weak, the disdained, and the persecuted, and to provide as much protection as we can.

We view healing our own inner wounds as our foremost task. – All our strength and loving zeal must be directed towards making our Protestant people as a whole mindful of the blessings of the Reformation, of the pure Gospel by God’s grace in Christ, of the universal priesthood, of liberation from the bonds of superstition, of freedom of belief and conscience. Our people must also remember to spread the following conviction within the broadest circles: that just as Germany’s current strength and greatness is based on the Reformation, so its future depends on the preservation of that inheritance and, ultimately, on the complete triumph of the Gospel. Sharpening Protestant self-confidence along these lines and awakening the Protestant sense of community in the face of external and internal division will be the aim. All this will ensure that our people will be armed and prepared when God’s hour comes.

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