Outspoken pastor

Taking a stand in Austria

When Pastor Gertraud Knoll rose to speak to the crowd in front of the Vienna Opera House last February, she knew her remarks could be hazardous to her career. A few weeks before, a coalition government had been formed that included Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, which pandered to voters’ xenophobia with such slogans as “Put a stop to too many foreigners” and “Stop asylum abuse.” Knoll, superintendent of the Lutheran Church in the eastern province of Burgenland, addressed the quarter-million people who gathered to protest against the Freedom Party’s role in the government.

 

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