The New Apostolic Church's support of the Nazi regime

The lack of freedom of belief and conscience in the New Apostolic Church

The focus on gaining power in the world as opposed to the spiritual and social welfare of people

Rejection of the Christian mainstream

The New Apostolic Church's support of the Nazi regime

During the period of Nazi rule in Germany the New Apostolic Church had an unusually good relationship with the government.

Membership of the Nazi Party
Thirteen German Apostles were members of the Nazi Party. They include Friedrich Bischoff, Gottfried Rockenfelder, Friedrich Hahn, Herbert Tiedt, Artur Köhler, Herbert Volz and Günter Knobloch. The allegation that such people were forced to be members of the Party is easily refuted by referring to Chief Apostle Walter Schmidt's biography (written by Susanne Scheibler and published in 1991 by Friedrich Bischoff Publishers) where it is proudly stated that he resisted becoming a member.

On July 18, 1932 Bischoff gave the instruction to all New Apostolic Church congregations in Germany that Nazi members in uniform were to be admitted to the church services and be treated in a friendly manner. The Chief Apostle could write to the Prussian minister of home affairs: "Every servant and every member of the New Apostolic Church has been strategically influenced by the administration in a Nazi sense, so that most of the New Apostolic Church members belong to the Nazi party or sympathise with the party.

The church actively sought to identify and excommunicate opponents of the Nazi government. The church contributed large amounts to the Nazi regime and was involved in joint fund-raising events with organs of the Nazi Party, raising 121 500 Marks in 1933 alone. New Apostolic Church youth and women were encouraged to join organisations of the Nazi Party.

In December 1933, the New Apostolic Church released a document entitled, "The New Apostolic Church in the Third Reich", in which was written: "In the conclusion it is to be mentioned that after the election in December 1929 in Germany the communist party published a list with the names of 28 comrades who voted for the Nazi Party ... Out of the 28 comrades there were no less than 12 members of the New Apostolic community."

Promotion of Nazi propaganda
In a letter written in August 1933 to the Nazi Minister for Science, Art and National Education the then leader of the church, Johann Bischoff, stated, "a large number of my circulars to the leaders and servants of the New Apostolic Church in Germany supplied the proof that we did not only recognise but also promoted without reservation and unconditionally the Nazi movement."

Nazi propaganda was printed in the German editions of its official magazine. For example, in the edition of 5 September 1941 it said, "Germany will fight until total victory has been achieved. That is, until it has freed Europe and the world from Bolshevik murderers, from the British plutocracy and from Jews and freemasons."

From 1933, letters from the New Apostolic Church offices were signed "Heil Hitler!", long before the state made it compulsory.

In a security service guidebook from May 1937, even the Reich leader of the SS certifies, despite his fundamental skepticism toward all religious communities, Chief Apostle Bischoff’s sympathy for Nazism. "Since the taking over of power, the New Apostolic Church has emphasised their sympathy with the Nazi disposition rather obviously … today he [Bischoff] foregrounds his sympathy with Nazism and demands from his members in numerous newsletters the same positive attitude toward the government ..."

The South African connection

Bischoff also supported the efforts of Hitler to win international support by inviting Apostles from other countries to Germany. In August 1933, he wrote a letter to the German Minister of Internal Affairs in which he mentions his co-operation with the Ministry of Propaganda of Josef Goebbels:

“For some time now the North American, Canadian, South American, South African and Australian representatives of the New Apostolic Church were in Germany. The same were invited to Germany by me, the head of the New Apostolic Church domestically and internationally, in order to, in addition to discussions on church issues, make themselves aware of the inaccuracy of the horror stories about Germany that are being spread abroad.  Various trips around Germany had already given these representatives a pleasing picture.”

After his visit Apostle Schlaphoff, the then head of the New Apostolic Church in South Africa wrote the following in a letter dated 12 October 1937, "We were amazed at the wonderful order and peace in Germany – that was exactly the opposite of what the newspapers here abroad were writing about Germany."

Coincidently, Friedrich Bischoff (a District Evangelist at the time and Nazi Party member) reported on his travels through South Africa in the Unsere Familie (Our Family), January 5, 1939 until the Unsere Familie, April 20, 1940 as "Was ich in Afrika sah" ("What I saw in Africa"). The following extracts demonstrate the official support of the Nazi regime by the New Apostolic Church. But it also demonstrates the church's support of racial discrimination even before Apartheid was legally adopted in South Africa in 1948.

"The mixed population of South Africa gives a rather confusing picture, and this is, as is known to all, the biggest danger to South Africa. It influences congregational life in this respect, that there has been performed strict racial segregation, which has not lead to irritations of any kind ... The congregations which consist of coloured members have leaders from the same race, and the congregations which consist of white members have administration brothers accordingly. This makes that everyone, though under the same belief, stays in the ethnic framework to whom he belongs."

(From Unsere Familie, 7th year, number 6, March 20, 1940, page 89)

He concludes with these lines:

"White people from different European nations, Chinese, Indian, negroes and coloured people from all races live in this country nowadays. Though the white people have maintained a certain supremacy, this shows signs of tottering, and will be tottering even more, as the influence of the Jews increases, because it is his goal to split the people, to keep them down and exploit them. Not all South Africans know this and we may expect that they will have to learn some hard lessons, before they will realize this."


During the period of the Nazi regime and since the Second World War many Christian churches were vocally opposed to the Nazis. We can note the Barmen Declaration (May 1934) of the Confessing Church and the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt, adopted by German church leaders who had been opponents of Nazism and who earnestly repented for the church's weakness. In January 1980 the Synod of the Church of the Rhineland issued a powerful statement, which accepted co-responsibility for the Holocaust and condemned theological anti-Semitism. The New Apostolic Church owes it to the victims of Nazism and to its members to account for its support of the Nazi regime.

The lack of freedom of belief and conscience in the New Apostolic Church

Many members of the New Apostolic Church have over time held and expressed views which differ from those of ministers of the church. Whether those views were later found to be correct or not the treatment exacted on the dissenting members remained the same. Such members have been slandered, reprimanded, ostracised or excommunicated. The ministers whether or not they were found to be wrong have often been ordained into higher office.

Recent examples include the cases of Stephen Langtry (of South Africa), Siegfried Dannwolf (Germany), Dr Erwin Meier-Widmer (Switzerland) and some of those who constitute the Friends of the Pure Doctrine of Jesus (Freunde der reinen Jesulehre). Since April 2000, individuals suspected of being associated with this website have been threatened by the New Apostolic Church Cape. Priest Kenny Kotze (a member of the Public Relations Committee) started with threats of legal action. He was followed by District Evangelist Ernst Graf (former Administration Manager and son of former District Apostle Graf). Both men received support from Bishop Johan Bucchianeri (Administration Manager of the New Apostolic Church Cape). These threats have achieved nothing more than making it more clear that the New Apostolic Church is intolerant of criticism.

Employees of the church in Cape Town are sworn to secrecy and threatened with dismissal if they criticise or associate with critics of the New Apostolic Church. Meanwhile, women and children are systematically undervalued in the New Apostolic Church and their rights are regularly abused. The recent case of child abuse in Australia is an example.

The German and Swiss governments and the South African Human Rights Commission have been made aware of the New Apostolic Church's intolerance to dissent in its midst. The New Apostolic Church must respect the rights of members and former members to agree and to express their disagreement on all matters.

Bearded Men Denied Blessings

Despite claims of reform, the NAC congregations in the USA are still being ruled according to the personal whims of the local Apostles.  Recent events in the Palm Beach Gardens congregation in Florida provides evidence to this claim.

A long time faithful member of the New Apostolic Church decided to join the choir. After rehearsing with them for 4 weeks, he finally joined them on January 6th, 2002. However, once the brother sat with the choir, the choir did not sing. Everyone just sat there looking around. Immediately after the text, the officient began serving. No song from the choir.

The midweek service followed, and the same thing happened! Why would this happen? Because this brother has a beard. He has had this beard for 35 years. When the choir questioned the Rector, they found out that the ministers there were under directives that if they saw this brother sit in the choir, the choir was not to sing at all. The whole choir, along with the entire congregation was being punished by NAC USA Apostles. All of this while most of the congregation that was aware of the situation clearly wanted this brother ( and any other bearded member) to sing with the choir!

The District Apostle Richard Freund and the Apostle Karl Hoffman silenced the choir over this silly, non-spiritual non-issue.

The focus on gaining power in the world as opposed to the spiritual and social welfare of people

While the New Apostolic Church claims to be apolitical it has often involved itself in political matters.

Coups and bribes

The Independent (London) of Saturday June 2, 1990 reported that one of those involved in planning a coup in Cambodia was the local head of the New Apostolic Church.  The newspaper stated that the New Apostolic Church "only recently began operating in Cambodia, but sources in Phnom Penh say the sect has been spreading a lot of money around in its search for converts."

The British Broadcasting Corporation reported on Saturday  January 14, 1995 that the former deputy air commander of the Russian western army group [Western Group of Forces] Major-General Nikolay Seliverstov was sentenced on Thursday, 12th January by the military collegium of the Russian Supreme Court to five years in prison with a two-year probation period. One of the charges he faced was bribe-taking and forgery in concluding deals with German commercial and public organizations. The investigation claimed that the general had received 20,000 DM in bribes from the New Apostolic Church for transporting its property from Germany to Kazakhstan.

South Africa

In South Africa, the New Apostolic Church was a supporter of the apartheid government and has now been observed to lobby favour with the government in power since 1994. Evidence of this includes

In a document dated 1 June 1998, the New Apostolic Church Cape concedes that in 26% of cases listed there its places of worship existed in contravention of some or other regulation. The church has been assisted by people such as New Apostolic Church member, Denise Africa, of the Cape Town Planning Department and its attorney, Storm Reilly.

The Public Relations Committee of the New Apostolic Church Cape

The efforts of the New Apostolic Church in Cape Town have been coordinated by the Public / Community Relations Commission of the church composed of Bishop Allister Kriel (chairperson), District Evangelist Roy Klibbe, Priest Kenny Kotze and Priest Richard Julius. Bishop Willie Vollenhoven has also attended meetings of this committee most notably that of 22 and 23 June 1999 with Peter Johanning where he led discussions on "Media response (to negative articles, eg Langtry)". Julius who is not employed by the church owns several companies one of which does consultancy work for the government.

The "vision" of the above structure is "To promote and position the New Apostolic Church to be accepted as the re-established salvation work of God, governed by the Holy Spirit." One of its objectives is to "Identify opportunities to interact with important players in government, business and communities."

Kriel was handpicked by Noel Barnes for this position. He is the uncle of the late Ashley Kriel, a member of the ANC's armed wing who died at the hands of the apartheid police. While Ashley was ostracised by the New Apostolic Church in his lifetime his name is now useful to win favour with the ANC government.

There is evidence to suggest that the New Apostolic Church is resorting to devious tactics in an effort to improve its image on the Internet. This should not surprise some of the more insightful followers of postings on the NACBoard. On 22 and 23 June 1999, Peter Johanning, the Chief Apostle's media representative held meetings with the Public Relations Committee of the New Apostolic Church Cape and a representative of the New Apostolic Church South East Africa. The meetings were chaired by Bishop Allister Kriel.

Edward Kieswetter (now a Bishop) presented a document entitled, "A Discussion Paper as a Guideline for Developing a Stance on Media and Public Relations: Cyber Relations". In the document he states that New Apostolic Church "PR professionals will have to become skilled at 'lurking' and 'seeding'".

"Lurking" is the act of hanging out on various message boards and other Internet forums to see what is going on without actually participating. In this way when someone raises a question that may have originated on a forum on the Internet an official response will be ready and waiting. "Seeding" is the act of posting comments and responses to negative statements in order to try to turn the conversations in a favourable way for the church.

The latest efforts of the Public / Community Relations Commission is to establish links with the government of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese government has a human rights record equaled only by the governments of Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa, two other allies of the New Apostolic Church. According to Bishop Johan Bucchianeri, the Administration Manager of the New Apostolic Church Cape, the ready supply of "cheap labour" in China will serve the church well in having its printing done at greatly reduced costs!

In Revelation we read of a religion that associates itself very closely with political power. The judgement against that religion is harsh. The New Apostolic Church runs the danger of becoming more like a business organisation seeking to win political influence than a church. The New Apostolic Church should focus on meeting the needs of people instead of spending large amounts of money on public relations campaigns and church buildings.

Rejection of the Christian mainstream

The central message of the New Apostolic Church is that it is the only true way. The New Apostolic Church suggests that everyone else is wrong and that those who have left the church are misguided. The New Apostolic Church does not like criticism of itself but it claims the right to criticise individuals who have left and people of other faiths.

Personal opinions of New Apostolic Church members

A glance through the guestbook entries of other sites that deal with the New Apostolic Church should make it clear that the ones who engage in vicious personal attacks and threats and emotional and irrational outbursts are faithful members of the New Apostolic Church and not critics of the New Apostolic Church.

Here are some examples of email messages received from faithful New Apostolic Church members:

Official position of the New Apostolic Church

The following quotes from official New Apostolic Church sources confirm that the above views have the approval of the Chief Apostle.

The reader can draw his or her own conclusions about what is suggested about other churches and people who do not subject themselves to the authority of the New Apostolic Church's Apostles!

Furthermore on 14 January 2001, Chief Apostle Fehr said the following in a church service in the Netherlands:

"Dear brothers and sisters, we have received the pledge of the future blessedness because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was dispensed to us by a living Apostle. Now everything should ripen and become worthy for the day of the Lord. Surely the thought could spring to mind: Has God created other ways to become a child of God or is there really one only way, like we have been heard until now: Dispensing the Holy Spirit through a living Apostle?

"Dear brothers and sisters, at first God always acted directly, after that he let his Apostles dispense his Spirit. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell from heaven directly, filled the faithful, but afterwards the Apostles sealed those who came to the faith. When finally the work extended to the heathens, the Holy Spirit came directly from heaven, on Cornelius and his family, but after that the Apostles dispensed the Spirit. It is and will remain connected to this office, that is not something we have decided, that is decided by the Lord, that we can receive the spirit of childhood. Should I go to the baker when I want to buy a new watch? And when my appendix needs to be removed, should I go to the hairdresser to get that done? I should go to a doctor. And when I need a watch, I go to a watchmaker. In case you don't know one, don't know a watchmaker: There are a few famous ones in Switzerland - I can advertise a little bit in between.

"Dear brothers and sisters, and when you want the Holy Spirit, I don't care whether you travel to Rome, or to the Dalai Lama in the Himalayas or the cuckoo knows where, you will not receive this Spirit, but only through the sent Apostles of Jesus Christ. I say this again in all clearness."

There are a small number of groups that also believe that they are the only children of God. Such groups include Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons. However the vast majority of Christendom hold the view that Christians drawn from all denominations constitute the Christian Church.

The New Apostolic Church should abandon its elitist mentality and enter the Christian mainstream with humility.

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