Once a majority, Protestants now account for fewer than a third of Germans

Source: Pew Research Center

German churchgoers attend a service marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Germany is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, but since the middle of the 20th century, the country has seen a dramatic shift away from Protestantism – one that has greatly outpaced a decline in the share of Germans who are Catholic.

Protestants represented a majority (59%) of Germany’s population in 1950, with Catholics as a sizable minority (37%), according to research by Detlef Pollack and Olaf Müller, scholars of religion and sociology at the University of Münster in Germany. These shares are largely based on church membership rolls that include both children and adults. Over the next 60 years, the share of Protestants fell 30 percentage points, while the share of Catholics dropped 7 points. Each group now includes roughly three-in-ten Germans, based on 2010 membership data.

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1 reply

  1. One ‘side-effect’ of the declining number of adherents to the state religions is that the income from the church taxes have gone drastically down, which must be quite a change to the church leadership as well.

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