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Evangelical Church in Germany gives ethical guidance for the digital world

30 April 2021

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THE Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has published a 250-page position paper providing ethical guidance for the digital world.

“Because technologies have developed so rapidly in the past ten years, social norms for their use are inevitably lagging behind,” the chairman of the EKD, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, said at a press conference on Thursday of last week.

Digitalisation has permeated almost all areas of life, intensified by the pandemic; he sees it as the task of the Churches and religious communities to provide ethical guidance for social issues.

“This makes it all the more urgent to focus more on the ethical consequences of digitalisation, and to come to an understanding on how to deal responsibly with the technologies,” the Bishop said.

The paper Digital Freedom: The Ten Commandments in times of digital change is based on the Ten Commandments in both its structure and content.

Bishop Bedford-Strohm said that they were totally relevant, referring to the ninth commandment — “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” — as a reminder of the debate about fake news and hate speech on the internet. The Digital Ninth Commandment is, therefore: “Social networks: Discuss with respect.”

The EKD does not only want to reflect on digitalisation, but sees the Churches as an active participant. It has set up an innovation fund, which promotes ideas that enable pastoral work in the digital world. 

The Ten Digital Commandments are:

  1. Freedom on the Net: Using digital change responsibly and with care.
  2. Digital Image Worlds: Don’t forget who we are.
  3. Digital Religiousness: Where is faith on the internet?
  4. Digital Work: Having free time to find personal freedom.
  5. Sustainable Digital Living: How do we take care of intergenerational justice and the environment today?
  6. Digital Weapons: A just peace is the answer.
  7. Love Digitally and Freely: But not at the expense of others.
  8. Digital Economy: Opportunity for protection and justice.
  9. Social Networks: Discuss with respect.
  10. Digital Consumption: Live your dream — be considerate.

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