Germany Has Seen Dramatic Drop in Protestantism

The decline has outpaced German Catholics

Germany is the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation but from the middle of the 20th century, the European nation has suffered a shift from Protestantism. The rate of those moving away from the religion has outpaced a decline in the number of Catholic Germans. The numbers are all too clear. Protestants comprised 59 percent of the country’s population in 1950. Catholics at 37 percent formed a sizable minority. The next 60 years changed the religious demography. There was a dip of about 30 percentage points when it came to the Protestant population, while the Catholic share dipped about seven points.

Pew Research Center questioned adults about their present religious denomination and the denomination in which they were raised in. From the 33 percent of the people who were raised in the Protestantism, only 28 percent remained Protestant. In contrast, among the 45 percent who were raised Catholic, 43 percent continue to practice Catholicism.

The religiously unaffiliated has eaten into the shares of Catholics and Protestants, with 30 percent of Germans identifying themselves as religiously unaffiliated in 2010. This is a rise from the four percent in 1950. Recent research has indicated that the population of Muslims in Germany has risen in recent years, mostly due to immigration. The stark decline of Protestants in Germany is even more apparent when one looks separately towards the now defunct East Germany and West Germany. The territory of what was East Germany, predominantly Protestant when the country was created in 1949, has also witnessed a decline. This was believed to be the result of marginalization, persecution, and repression during the country’s communist rule which lasted about four decades in its history.

There have been a number of possible reasons for steeper Protestant declines in Western Germany as well. The list includes a robust Catholic identity made from multiple years of being a minority religion. The doctrinal differences concerning salvation make formal involvement in church more significant for Catholics as compared to Protestants. When it comes to German Christians as a whole, Catholics are much more probable compared to Protestants to have anti-religious minority and anti-immigrant attitudes. Catholics who regularly attend church are much more probable than those Catholics who are occasional visitors to harbor these views.


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