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Freedom of Religious Worship

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the German Basic Law, while the religious landscape is marked by increasing plurality.
© dpa

Germany’s Basic Law guarantees freedom of religion. Article 4 of the Constitution states that “freedom of faith and of conscience and freedom to profess a religious or philosophical creed shall be inviolable.” This includes the freedom to profess and practice a religion, along with the freedom not to profess any religion. 

Germany’s religious landscape is increasingly shaped by diversity and secularisation. Around 51% of the German population say they belong to one of the major Christian denominations. The Roman Catholic church in Germany is organised into the 27 Roman Cath­olic dioceses under the German Bishops’ Conference, while Protestant churches are organised into regional churches under the umbrella organisation of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD). With over 21 million members in 9,900 parishes, the Roman Catholic church belongs to the worldwide church with the Pope at its head. The EKD is the association of the 20 independent regional Lutheran, Reformed and United churches. With around 20 million members, it includes the majority of German Protestant Christians. Around 41% of the population does not belong to any Christian denomination.

Growing significance of islam

Migration is making Islam an increasingly significant part of religious life. While no definitive survey has been carried out, the number of Muslims in Germany has been estimated to be between 5.3 and 5.6 million, with roots in 50 different nations. Large Muslim communities have grown up in many cities. The German Islam Conference (DIK) was established in 2006 and provides an official framework for interaction between Muslims and the German state. German universities also offer training programmes for imams, and the Federal Government Federal Government The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives… Read more › intends to expand these services.

Jewish life in Germany, which was almost entirely destroyed by the Holocaust, is once again firmly rooted in Germany. Around 225,000 Jews now live in Germany. Approximately 92,000 are members of around 100 Jewish congregations across a broad spectrum of religious traditions. They are represented by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which was established in 1950.

Partnerships between the state and religious communities

Germany does not have an established church. Instead, the state works with religious communities as partners. The state contributes to funding kindergartens and schools that are sponsored by religious communities. The churches levy a church tax which is collected by the state to fund social, medical and other services. Schools must provide religious education as part of their standard curriculum, although restrictions to this apply in Berlin Berlin Once a year, during the Berlinale film festival, the world of the silver screen focuses its attention on Berlin. And the city’s inhabitants are used to global interest. After all, the people of Berlin have lived in a capital city since 1458. However, there is also a shady side to the city’s history… Read more › and Bremen Bremen The Hanseatic city of Bremen arose through classic maritime trading, in particular with coffee. In the smallest of the federal states (divided into the city of Bremen, and Bremerhaven, some 60 kilometers to the north) the port accounts for every fifth job. The largest private employer, however, is… Read more ›

The teaching of Islam as part of religious education is being expanded. Additional teachers are being trained to ensure that Muslim children and young people who attend school in Germany can be offered religious 

Religious affiliation in Germany 2021 (in million)

Source: EKD, DBK