eurel     Sociological and legal data on religions in Europe and beyond
You are here : Home » Germany » Social and religious data » Religious belonging and religious demography » New, returning and departing members

New, returning and departing members

Roman Catholics

From the Post-war era to the end of the 1960s, the number of Catholics leaving the Church remained low (about 25.000 departures each year), a figure that had hitherto never been recorded and will never be met again. After that, the highest figures in an irregular pattern were recorded in 1970 (69.000 departures) and 1974 (83.000). Thereafter, the number of people leaving remained high. During the 1980’s, the rate of departures started to rise again. From 1989 to 1990, there was a sharp increase from 93.000 to 144.000 departures – a development best understood within the context of the German reunification. As a result of the reunification, a lot of Easterners who had earlier turned their backs on the Church chose the occasion to officially leave it. The outward trend thus reached its highest point in 1992 with 193.000 departures (Ebertz 1998). After a decline in departure rates between 2000 und 2005, the number of Catholics leaving the Church presently borders again on 181.193 in 2010 (DBK).

Protestants

The departure rate is higher in the Protestant Church than in the Catholic Church. While few Protestants left the Church in the Post-war era, figures rose in the 60’s and in 1974, there were over 200.000 departures. From that time on, the number of people leaving the Church exceeds those entering or returning. After relatively stabilising, departures again increased to reach 148.000 in 1989. In 1992, the departure rate reached its peak with 361.000 Protestants leaving the Church. Here, as with the Catholic departures, consideration must be given to the effects of the reunification (Ebertz 1998). From 1995 the number of departures declined further to around 120.000 departures in 2005 but increased again to 145.000 leaving Protestants in 2010 (EKD). From data provided by the Church itself, it is expected that one third of Protestants will leave the Church between now and 2030.

Those with no religion

While the German Churches are losing their members, the number of persons who have no religion is on the increase. In West Germany, they represent 16% of the population and almost 74% in East Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt: Datenreport 2011). In West Germany, most of the people have left the Church whereas in the East the majority is not born into any religion. The former socialist regime put pressure on believers to leave the Church and not baptise their children. In West Germany, the decline in Church attendance is rather due to the burden of paying Church tax. The immigration of non-Christians has a further negative effect on Church membership (EKD 2003).

Towards religious plurality

On the premise that Germany’s demographic evolution will be marked by immigration in the next few decades, a greater diversity in the religious landscape is to be expected. For the Christian faiths, the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches stand to gain from the immigration surplus coming from Southern Europe while the Protestant Church will hardly profit at all.

New, returning and departing members, 2010

Catholics (Roman Catholic Church) Protestants (Evangelical Church)
New entrants + Returnees 10.979 37.948
Departures 181.193 145.250
Balance -170.214 -107.302

Source : Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz (DBK), Eintritte, Wiederaufnahmen zur katholischen Kirche sowie Austritte aus der katholischen Kirche 1950 – 2010; Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Statistik über die Äußerungen des kirchlichen Lebens in den Gliedkirchen der EKD im Jahr 2010, Hannover 2011.

The Catholic Church: New, returning and departing members, 1950-2010

Year New Returning Departing
1950 20.548 10.090 33.536
1955 12.975 6.415 21.292
1960 13.970 5.645 23.889
1965 10.247 3.967 22.791
1970 4.132 1.725 69.454
1975 3.500 2.298 69.370
1980 4.103 3.630 66.438
1985 4.210 4.517 74.112
1990 3.975 4.913 143.530
1991 3.915 4.734 167.933
1995 3.797 6.344 168.244
2000 3.842 8.171 129.496
2005 4.958 11.210 89.565
2010 3.576 7.403 181.193

Source : Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz (DBK), Eintritte, Wiederaufnahmen zur katholischen Kirche sowie Austritte aus der katholischen Kirche 1950 - 2010.

The Protestant Church: New, returning and departing members, 1965 - 2010

Year Entrants + Returnees Adult baptisms Departing
1965 29.499 5.236 39.611
1970 17.165 3.825 202.823
1975 11.747 6.333 168.641
1980 19.688 10.460 119.814
1985 23.908 14.506 140.553
1990 28.470 13.986 144.143
1991 44.731 22.914 320.635
1995 34.549 22.953 296.782
2000 37.853 23.644 188.557
2005 41.237 23.358 119.561
2010 37.948 18.957 145.250

Source: Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Statistik über die Äußerungen des kirchlichen Lebens in den Gliedkirchen der EKD im Jahr 2010, Hannover 2011; Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Statistik über die Äußerungen des kirchlichen Lebens in den Gliedkirchen der EKD im Jahr 2005, Hannover 2006.

D 26 July 2012    AMatthias Koenig ASabine Trittler

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

Follow us:
© 2002-2020 eurel - Contact