What is anthroposophy, this “philosophy” which would slow down vaccination in Germanic countries?

In this philosophico-esoteric current very present in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the theories “anti-vax” particularly infused

What if anthroposophy was an obstacle to vaccination against Covid-19 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria? In this philosophical-esoteric current born more than a century ago, which maintains the Steiner-Waldorf school network, “anti-vax” theories have particularly infused.

Overwhelmed by a virulent new wave, the three German-speaking countries share many points in common, including their place in the top three of Western European countries with the highest proportion of unvaccinated people over 12 years old. An explanation could be found in the strong implantation in these countries of the anthroposophic current, according to some experts.

“Karma” et “cosmos”

The regions most affected, from the Alpine region to Saxony, in fact correspond exactly to the era of development of this movement of thought, “a branch of the romanticism of nature, of the criticism of authority and of science. », Details Michael Blume, specialist in religions and commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism in the German region of Baden-Württemberg.

Anthroposophy was initiated at the beginning of the 20th century by the Austrian Rudolf Steiner, before taking off in the 1960s, in a mixture of Christian, Hindu beliefs, mixing “karma” and “cosmos”, and new-age . “It is a ‘science’ of the ‘upper worlds'”. If the supersensitive parts of the world are recognized (spirits, auras, etc.), they can be used for education, agriculture, architecture, medicine, etc. ”, explains Ansgar Martins, professor of philosophy of religions at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.

This trend has since spread thanks to the cosmetics group Weleda, also created by Mr. Steiner, the organic chain Alnatura, the Steiner-Waldorf schools and their alternative pedagogy or even agriculture, with the promotion of biodynamics, a practice turned in part towards astrology.

“The head office is in Dornach, Switzerland, but the various affiliated movements are organized independently. […] It is not a question of a centralized sect but of a not very coherent “movement”, decrypts Mr. Martins.

The “anthroposophists”, who are said to be around 12,000 active members in Germany but whose influence would be increased tenfold by the Waldorf establishments, nevertheless share the belief, according to Mr. Martins, “that everything in the world is good and has a meaning”, including diseases, hence reluctance to be vaccinated.

measles in Waldorf schools

“It’s supposed to be useful to get through them, especially the so-called ‘childhood illnesses’ like measles,” adds Martins, noting that the Steiner-Waldorf schools, which have around a thousand establishments around the world, including 200 in Germany, have “often been the starting point of measles epidemics”.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not escaped this belief: schools have thus constituted hotbeds of contamination since 2020, especially in southwestern Germany. One of these schools, located in Friborg, also recently hit the headlines by seeking to exempt students and teachers from wearing masks, against the advice of health authorities.

“Many anthroposophists still believe in a law of karma, according to which illnesses make it possible to atone for the misdeeds of past lives and promote spiritual development,” says Blume. “That’s why there are unfortunately a lot of skeptics in some Waldorf schools,” he says.

Anthroposophical doctors have thus publicly expressed doubts about the reality of the pandemic or the effectiveness of the vaccine. Some have claimed to rely on alternative treatments, such as compresses of ginger and iron from meteorites to fight the coronavirus.

The federation of anthroposophic doctors for its part refutes the accusations. “From the start we have clearly welcomed vaccination in the fight against the pandemic,” one of its officials, Stefan Schmidt-Troschke, told ZDF this week. The management of the school network also clearly stood out in October 2020 from the anti-mask movement, active in Germany, and its “mystifying” statements.

However, several anti-restriction demonstrations in Germany were organized in front of Waldorf schools where there were significant proportions of parents or teachers from these schools in their ranks.

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