Talk:Frederick William IV of Prussia

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Lutheran or Reformed or Evangelical[edit]

You state "Despite being a devout Lutheran...." - this is incorrect. Ever since Johann Sigismund publicly accepted the Calvinistic (Reformed) faith on December 25th, 1613, the subsequent rulers of Brandenburg/Prussia have, for the most part, been faithful to their Calvinistic roots.

In fact, his predecessor, Friedrich Wilhelm III created the Prussian Union church. This new church was simply called the "Evangelical Church" and the terms Lutheran and Reformed were banned by the king in the early 1830s. Thus, under Friedrich Wilhelm III (in Prussia), the Lutheran church and the Reformed church were banned and the only state sanctioned church was the new union or Evangelical church.

Much had been written on this subject and details to verify this should be easy to find.

Lutherans in Pommern, Silesia, Brandenburg that disagreed with the kings edicts continued to practice their Lutheran faith and were arrested and fined. Their Lutheran pastors were thrown in jail. These Lutherans who disagreed with the king were eventually called "Altlutherische" or "Old Lutherans". They finally decided that the only way they could continue to practice their faith was to leave Prussia. From 1835 to the early 1850s, some 5,000 Prussian citizens stated on their government application papers that they wanted to leave Prussia due to religious reasons. Those "Old Lutherans" that came to America became the foundation for the different branches of the Lutheran church found in America today.

When Friedrich WIlhelm IV became king one of his first measures was to retract the toughest of Altenstein's laws and to release the Lutheran clergy still in prison and return them to their parishes. By 1843, the non-Union Lutherans were tolerated as a legitimate private organization of Lutheran brethren. Still they were required to pay surplice fees to the pastors of the United church, and to contribute money to the church and parsonage buildings. They were refused permission to call themselves the "Lutheran church" or to even call their buildings of worship "churches." Still, it was not until 1908 that they were allowed, on the basis of a law modifying the general concessions of 1845, to call themselves "Verein der evangelische altlutherischen Kirchengemeinden" (Association of Evangelical Old Lutheran Church Congregations).

Thus, although Friedrich Wilhelm IV did grant a few concessions to the Lutherans in Prussia, he was by no means a "Lutheran" himself. He was likely raised in the Reformed faith, and during his rule he preserved the Union church his father worked so hard for.

Tom