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Christianity is the largest religion in Germany with 52 million adherents (2010/2011) (about 62% of population, 2008: 62.8%. 2006: 67.1%. The second largest religion is Islam with 4 million adherents (5%) followed by Buddhism and Judaism. During the last few decades, the two largest churches in Germany (the Protestant Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Roman Catholic Church), have lost significant number of adherents; both are down to roughly 30% (by the end of 2008). The percentage of Catholics in West Germany alone, starting in 1965 (43.8%) until 2011 (29.9%), under a united Germany, including the eastern states, reflects this difference. More than 30% are not affiliated with any church or other religious body.
The most notable losses occurred in the Protestant churches, in East Germany largely owing to the atheistic policy under the communistic regime. However since the fall of the communistic regime two decades ago, the EKD continued losing members, to just below 30% by the end of 2008. Other churches in Germany are all rather small (equal or less than 0.5%). Since the reunification of Germany the number of nonreligious people in the Federal Republic has grown, especially because the former East German states have a large nonreligious majority. Due to losses of both the Protestant churches and the Catholic Church in Hamburg, this state has also joined the group of states with a non-religious majority.[not in citation given]
Roman Catholicism was the sole established religion in the Holy Roman Empire until the Reformation changed this drastically. In 1517, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church as he saw it as a corruption of Christian faith. Through this, he altered the course of European and world history and established Protestantism.
The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. The war was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most of the countries of Europe. The war was fought largely as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire.
The national constitutions of 1919 and 1949 guarantee freedom of faith and religion; earlier, these freedoms were mentioned only in state constitutions. The modern constitution of 1949 also states that no one may be discriminated against due to their faith or religious opinions. A state church does not exist in Germany.
Religious communities that are of considerable size and stability and are loyal to the constitution can be recognised as "Körperschaften öffentlichen Rechtes" (statutory corporation). This gives them certain privileges, for example being able to give religious instruction in state schools (as enshrined in the German constitution, though some states are exempt from this) and having membership fees collected (for a fee) by the German revenue department as Church tax. It is a surcharge amounting to between 8 or 9% of the income tax. The status mainly applies to the Roman Catholic Church, the mainline Protestant EKD, and Jewish communities. There have been numerous discussions of allowing other religious groups like Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims into this system as well. The Muslim efforts were hampered by the Muslims' own disorganised state in Germany, with many small rivalling organisations and no central leadership, which does not fit well into a legal frame that was originally created with well-organized, large Christian churches in mind.
According to organizational reportings based on projections in 2008 about 34.1% Germans have no registered religious denomination.
Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with around 52 million adherents (62.8%) in 2008 of which 24.5 million are Protestants (29.9%) belonging to the EKD and 24.9 million are Catholics (30.0%) in 2008, the remainder belong to small denominations (each (considerably ) less than 0.5% of the German population). The second largest religion is Islam with an estimated 3.8 to 4.3 million adherents (4.6 to 5.2%) followed by Buddhism and Judaism, both with around 200,000 adherents (0.3%). Hinduism has some 90,000 adherents (0.1%) and Sikhism 75,000 (0.1%). All other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 (<0.1%) adherents.
Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman Catholicism is concentrated in the south and west. The former Pope, Benedict XVI, was born in Bavaria. Non-religious people, including atheists and agnostics might make as many as 55%, and are especially numerous in the former East Germany and major metropolitan areas.
Of the roughly 4 million Muslims, most are Sunnis and Alevites from Turkey, but there are a small number of Shi'ites and other denominations. 1.6% of the country's overall population declare themselves Orthodox Christians, Serbs and Greeks being the most numerous. Germany has Europe's third-largest Jewish population (after France and the United Kingdom). In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total Jewish population to more than 200,000, compared to 30,000 prior to German reunification. Large cities with significant Jewish populations include Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. Around 250,000 active Buddhists live in Germany; 50% of them are Asian immigrants.
According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 45% of German citizens agreed with the statement "I believe there is a God", whereas 25% agreed with "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 27% said "I do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force". According to a new 2012 poll released by WIN-Gallup International, 51% of the German citizens said that they are religious, 33% said not religious, 15% said atheist, and 1% gave no answer.
According to the 2011 EU-wide census, in which Germany participated:
Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with the Protestant Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) comprising 29.9%  as of 31 December 2008 (down 0.3% compared to the 30.2% in the year before) of the population and Roman Catholicism comprising 30.7% as of Dec. 2008 (also down 0.3% compared to the year before). Consequently a majority of the German people belong to a Christian community, although many of them take no active part in church life. About 1.7% of the population is Orthodox Christian.
Independent and congregational churches exist in all larger towns and many smaller ones, but most such churches are small. One of these is the confessional Lutheran Church called Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Germany.
Before World War II, about two-thirds of the German population was Protestant and one-third was Roman Catholic. In the north and northeast of Germany especially, Protestants dominated. In the former West Germany between 1945 and 1990, which contained nearly all of Germany's historically Catholic areas, Catholics have had a small majority since the 1980s. Due to a generation behind the Iron Curtain Protestant areas of the former states of Prussia were much more affected by secularism than predominantly Catholic areas. The predominantly secularised states, such as Hamburg or the East German states, used to be Lutheran or United Protestant strongholds.
There is a non-religious majority in Hamburg, Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt only 19.7 percent belong to the two big denominations of the country. This is the state where Martin Luther was born.
In eastern Germany both religious observance and affiliation are much lower than in the rest of the country after forty years of Communist rule. The government of the German Democratic Republic encouraged an atheist worldview through institutions such as Jugendweihen (youth consecrations), secular coming-of-age ceremonies akin to Christian confirmation which all young people were strongly encouraged to attend (and disadvantaged socially if they did not). The average church attendance is now one of the lowest in the world, with only 5% attending at least once per week, compared to 14% in the rest of the country according to a recent study. The number of christenings, religious weddings and funerals is also lower than in the West.
According to a survey among German youths (aged between 12 and 24) in the year 2006, 30% of German youths believe in a personal god, 19% believe in some kind of supernatural power, 23% share agnostic views and 28% are atheists.
Neopagan religions have been public in Germany at least since the 19th century. Nowadays Germanic Heathenism (Germanisches Heidentum, or Deutschglaube for its peculiar German forms) has many organisations in the country, including the Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft (Communion of Germanic Faith), the Heidnische Gemeinschaft (Heathen Communion), the Verein für germanisches Heidentum (Association for Germanic Heathenry) the Nornirs Ætt, the Eldaring, the Artgemeinschaft, the Armanen-Orden, and Thuringian Firne Sitte.
Other Pagan religions include the Celto-Germanic Matronenkult grassroots worship practiced in Rhineland, Celtoi (a Celtic religious association) and Wiccan groups. 1% of the population of North Rhine-Westphalia adheres to new religions or esoteric groups as of 2006.
Islam is the largest minority religion in the country. The large majority of Muslims in Germany are of Turkish origin (63.2%), followed by smaller groups from Pakistan, countries of the former Yugoslavia, Arab countries, Iran and Afghanistan. As of 2006, according to the U.S. Department of State, approximately 3.2 million Muslims live in Germany. This figure includes the different denominations of Islam, such as Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya and Alevites. Studies have also shown that thousands of Germans convert to Islam annually.
Muslims first came to Germany as part of the diplomatic, military and economic relations between Germany and the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century. In World War I about 15,000 Muslim prisoners of war were interned in Berlin. The first mosque was established in Berlin in 1915 for these prisoners, though it was closed in 1930. After the West German Government invited foreign workers in 1961, the Muslim population continuously rose.
Today Germany, especially its capital Berlin, has the fastest growing Jewish community worldwide. About ninety thousand Jews from the former Eastern Bloc, mostly from ex-Soviet Union countries, settled in Germany since the fall of the Berlin wall. This is mainly due to a German government policy which effectively grants an immigration ticket to anyone from the CIS and the Baltic states with Jewish heritage, and the fact that today's Germans are seen as significantly more accepting of Jews than many people in the ex-Soviet realm. Some of the about 60,000 long-time resident German Jews have expressed some mixed feelings about this immigration that they perceive as making them a minority not only in their own country but also in their own community. Prior to Nazism, about 600,000 Jews lived in Germany, with communities going back to the 4th century.
The German government as well as the churches are actively involved in disseminating information and warnings about sects and cults (in colloquial language the German word Sekte is used in both senses) and new religious movements. In public opinion, minor religious groups are often referred to as Sekten, which can both refer to destructive cults but also to all religious movements which are not Christian or different from the Roman Catholicism and the mainstream Protestantism. However, major world religions like mainstream Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam are not referred to as Sekten.
Every Protestant Landeskirche (church whose canonical jurisdiction extends over one or several states, or Länder) and Catholic episcopacy has a Sektenbeauftragter (Sekten delegate) from whom information about religious movements may be obtained.
The German government also provides information about cults, sects, and new religious movements. In 1997, the parliament set up a commission for Sogenannte Sekten und Psychogruppen (literally "so-called sects and psychic groups") which delivered an extensive report on the situation in Germany regarding NRMs in 1998. In 2002, the Federal Constitutional Court upheld the governmental right to provide critical information on religious organizations being referred to as Sekte, but stated that "defamatory, discriminating, or falsifying accounts" were illegal.