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Germany

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. 

 

In the News

Demographics

  • 1.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Urbanization Prospects, 2014.
  • 2.United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 revision.
  • 3.United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Homicide Statistics 2015.
  • 4.Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2016.
  • 5.UNICEF, State of the World's Children, 2016.
  • 6.Statistical Yearbook of the Church, 2015. Vatican City: Librera Editrice Vaticana, 2017.
  • 7.World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report, 2016.

Footnotes