First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for this quotation. In fact, you have probably heard it before. I have heard this quote many times too, but it was just recently that I learned that the man who said it was a prominent protestant pastor during the time of Hitler and the Nazis. It was learning this information that made all the difference in the world in understanding where this quote stemmed from.
This quotation stemmed from Niemöller’s lectures during the early postwar period. His point was he believed that Germans, and in particular the leaders of the Protestant churches, had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people.
Martin Niemöller was one of the earliest Germans to talk publicly about the broader complicity in the Holocaust and guilt for what had happened to the Jews. In his 1946 book Of Guilt and Hope, Niemöller wrote: “Thus, whenever I chance to meet a Jew known to me before, then, as a Christian, I cannot but tell him: ‘Dear Friend, I stand in front of you, but we cannot get together, for there is guilt between us. I have sinned and my people has sinned against thy people and against thyself.'”
What he would have, and could have, changed if he and all of the pastors in Germany had taken a stand and spoken out against Hitler and the Nazis when it mattered most. Although he did suffer, spending the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, he still recognized his own guilt for not speaking out against tyranny.
It reminds me much of the modern day pastors and church leaders of today. In fact, we could rewrite Niemöller’s quote quite well for the modern day church leader. It would probably go something like this:
First they came for prayer in school, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a student.
Then they came to murder the unborn in their mother’s womb, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not an unborn child.
Then they came for the legalization of homosexual “marriage” (In God’s own Word, an abomination) and I did not speak out — Because I did not want to be called a hater.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me, because I never spoke out for anyone else (let alone God).
It is disgraceful what we are seeing from the pulpits in America today. Rather than seeing a thunderous barrage of righteous indignation and zeal against tyranny, injustice, immorality and lawlessness, we are hearing virtually nothing…silence.
It was Ella Wheeler Wilcox who said, “To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.”
We hear pastors say, “Well, I don’t speak out against anything political.” The murder of innocent children is not political! Redefining marriage isn’t political! A corrupt, wicked, and lawless administration that means to destroy your country and religious freedom is not political!
I say you are a coward who will not fight to defend and preserve the liberties that were bought in blood by heroic men and woman generations before you, and at present, so you could even have the right to speak from a pulpit.
Here we see in Niemöller a man who could not change the destruction that took place in the lives of millions of people. He could not go back in time and right the wrongs, but we still can.
Where are the pastors that will preach the Word of God, come what may? Where are the prophets who will point the finger at America’s sin and provide a call for repentance? Where are the church leaders who will not bow and tell the Supreme Court that, “God is my Judge!” Where are the business owners who will take a stand and not fund abortion through Obamacare? Where are our military leaders who will fight against the Muslim infiltration of our country? Where are they?
How about we start with you?
Do not go down in history and end your life with a big “I wish I would have” in an ocean of regret for what you failed to do in your lifetime. After all, if not you, then who? If not now, then when? The biggest mistake that man has made throughout history, is that man has not learned from history.
Together, we can turn this destruction around, but if you choose to remain silent, don’t be surprised when they come for you and there is no one left to speak out.