Germany is the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, but for centuries it has been divided religiously between a majority Catholic south and west, and a majority Protestant north and east. In 1950, Protestants represented almost 60% of the population and Catholics 37%, but according to church rolls today, 30% of Germans are Catholic, 30% unaffiliated, 29% are Protestant and 10% are other religions. Residents of territory in the former East Germany are religiously affiliated at a much lower rate than in the former West Germany.1
Germans define their culture as secular, however those who declare their religion to the state are charged a church tax. The German bishops' conference estimated in 2017 that a little over 10% of Catholics were regular Mass attenders. Some non-practicing Catholics still opt to pay the tax to support the church, while some who self-identify as Catholic do not declare in order to avoid the tax. In 2016, more than 162,000 Catholics unenrolled from Catholic church membership in the tax rolls, a slightly smaller number than the 171,000 who were baptized that year.2
A 2017 Pew survey reported that 7% of self-identified Catholics in Germany said that they pray daily; 12% that they believe in God with absolute certainty, 12% that religion is very important in their lives; 33% that they attend religious services at least monthly, 10% that they try to persuade other adults to adopt their religious views, 29% that they wear or carry religious symbols. These numbers are quite comparable to figures for their Protestant co-nationalists.3
Berlin, which is covered here, is its vibrant, cosmopolitan capital city, a mecca for young people and artists, and a global city that attracts immigrants from around the world. Catholicism is a minority religion in the capital.
- 1. Jonathan Evans, "Once a majority, Protestants now account for fewer than a third of Germans" February 12, 2019.
- 2. CNA Deutsch, Über 160.000 Austritte, weniger Priester und Sakramente: Kirchenstatistik 2016 vorgelegt
- 3. Jonathan Evans, "Once a majority, Protestants now account for fewer than a third of Germans" February 12, 2019.
In the News
- As church-goers wane, Germany's controversial tax prompts unease - Catholic News Agency - February 12, 2015
- Anti-immigration rallies in Germany defy calls to desist - New York Times - January 5, 2015