Olli Dürr

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Attitudes towards religion have changed in Germany



The attitude of people in Germany towards religion and above all other religions has changed in the past 10 years. Fewer believe in God, many want to leave the church and more people see meaning in an “individual spirituality”.

Catholic magazine puts “fear” first

The so-called “German Angst” (“German fear”), mostly dug out of the rhetoric box in order to discredit generally justified doubts about socio-political changes and to ridicule the critical people behind them, has once again been tried. According to a study presented by the Catholic Internet portal, many people in Germany are now “afraid” of religious diversity in the country.

Details on the “Religionsmonitor 2023”

The Bertelsmann Foundation commissioned as part of the “Religionsmonitors 2023” an Infas survey on people’s attitudes towards religions.

Religious diversity as a “threat”

Dark Clouds
Religious diversity is perceived more and more as a threat

Accordingly, 34 percent of respondents describe the diversity of faiths as a “threat”. Only a slightly smaller proportion (29 percent) see pluralization as an “enrichment”. The so-called “rest” with the relative majority of 37 percent chose neither of the two options.

If the survey results are broken down by the respondents’ own religious affiliation, 34 percent of the members of a Christian community see religious diversity in Germany as a threat. For Muslims, the proportion is 20 percent. It is 61 percent for Hindus. Respondents with no religious affiliation were 38 percent of the same view.

As a side note, labeling something “threatening” is not the same as “fear”

Still open to religions

Compared to the survey in 2013, people’s attitudes have visibly changed. Ten years ago, 89 percent of those questioned were still of the opinion that one should be open to all religions. In the current survey, only 80 percent shared this opinion. Ten years ago, 72 percent of people polled agreed that any religion had a core of truth. In the survey for the “Religion Monitor 2023” the proportion was 59 percent.

Although the ratio of opinions between “threat”, “enrichment” and neutrality is roughly one third each, 93 percent of those surveyed rate religious freedom as very high.

According to the survey, slightly more than the majority (59 percent) of those surveyed consider any religion to be no longer appropriate in our time.

Around 50% are Christians

In Germany, 50 percent are Christians and almost 36 percent do not belong to any religious community. The Muslims therefore account for a share of 8.5 percent. There are also smaller groups of Buddhists, Jews and Hindus (0.3 percent). Among those who professed to be Christians in larger churches, 34.7 percent were Protestant, 44.6 percent Catholic and 3.7 percent Orthodox in the various groups. Among the Christians, 2.3 percent belonged to the Pentecostals and evangelical small congregations.

Skepticism in concrete confrontation

As long as it is about “abstract principles of belief, freedom of belief and freedom to practice one’s religion, the approval for religious freedom is very high. “The social consensus dissolves when it comes to the attitude towards different religious truths as well as the assessment of the relevance of religions for modernity,” says study author Yasemin El-Menouar.

High willingness to leave the church

church from inside
More and more Christians want to leave their church

What the Catholic Internet portal did not mention in its report is the willingness of the people to leave their church. The conclusion of this study is that people’s attachment to the churches is decreasing. This is particularly pronounced in the Catholic Church. Around a quarter of all respondents are considering turning their backs on the church. 66 percent for Catholics and 33 percent for Evangelicals.

Less trust in the churches

According to the study, churches are losing their social relevance. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, there is increasing individualization, “through which traditional church forms of religiosity are being replaced by more private forms of spirituality,” according to El-Menouar. Another reason is the increasing diversity of people according to their cultural background as a result of immigration. Added to this is the increasing critical view of numerous members of the church.

Church replacement by ‘individual spirituality’

About 80 percent of church members planning to leave the church said they have lost faith in religious institutions. In the Catholic Church, this is probably the main reason for the abuse scandals and the low willingness to reform the Roman Curia.

Too high social dominance of the churches

Most church members who intend to leave also criticized the social dominance of their church. 71 percent of this group believe the churches have too much power. 68 percent describe church privileges as unfair in a multi-religious society.

Leaving the church, however, is only associated with religiosity in exceptional cases. 92 percent of those willing to leave agreed with the statement that “one can also be a Christian without a church”. This opinion was also shared by 84 percent of those who are not (yet) planning to leave the church.

Fewer people believe in God at all

The report by the Catholic portal also does not address the significant decline in the number of people who still believe in a God at all. According to this, 10 years ago almost half still dared to believe very or “quite strongly” in God. In the current survey, the proportion was only 38 percent. Around one in four people does not believe in God at all. Secularization in Germany is progressing throughout society.

This development is not unwelcome

The bottom line is that fewer and fewer people automatically associate Christianity with the church. At the same time, more and more people do not automatically associate religiosity with Christianity. The study author’s comment that ecclesiastical religiosity is being replaced by individual forms of spirituality got to the point more precisely than she might have thought.

Spirituality prepares with nature religion

This individual, yet very flexible spirituality can be wonderfully combined with the efforts that are already being made at high speed to bring nature and its need for protection into play. Nature protection as a “sacred duty of mankind” for the preservation of creation. The tenor for this can no longer be ignored or overlooked. The swing of the churches in this direction, especially that of the Evangelical Churches in Germany (EKD), has long since taken place and things are moving forward at full speed.

Everything seems to be going according to plan

Conservation Religion
The ‘new religion for all’ will be a kind of adorable nature

Out of the frying pan into the fire. Whatever form this pantheism or panentheism takes, none of this has anything to do with God’s statutes according to the gospel. An approximate vision has already been presented to mankind with the filming of “Laudato si'”. “The woman rides the beast,” says Revelation 17, and the kings of the earth will willingly prostrate at her feet, just as the great majority of people “wonder” run after her (Revelation 13,3).

As things develop in terms of people’s religiosity and attitude towards it, everything is going according to plan from this “woman’s” point of view.

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:”
Revelation 17:4

Bible verses from King James Version

Attitudes towards religion have changed in Germany
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