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Religious practice

Attendance of sacraments

According to the official data of the churches, the number of participants in religious services declined during the last 50 years. The data on participation in the sacraments, notably the Lord’s (...)

According to the official data of the churches, the number of participants in religious services declined during the last 50 years. The data on participation in the sacraments, notably the Lord’s Supper, are of particular interest. A sharp decrease from almost 12.000.000 participants in 1960 to only 3.103.000 participants in 2010 can be observed among the Catholics. Within the Protestant churches, however, the pattern of participation is marked by downward and upward trends. Thus, the number of participants first decreased slightly between 1960 and 1970 but then increased to 10.722.000 participants in 2000. From then on, the participation rate declined again to 9.549.000 participants in 2010.

Official data of churches 1960-2010 (participants in church sacraments)

Catholics (Roman Catholic Church)Protestants (Evangelical Church)*
1960 11.895.000 7.727.000**
1970 10.159.000 6.813.000
1980 7.769.000 9.056.000
1990 6.190.000 9.391.000
2000 4.421.000 10.722.000
2010 3.103.000 9.549.000

Source: Statistisches Bundesamt (ed.) Datenreport 2006, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Bonn 2006; Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz (DBK), Katholiken und Gottesdienstteilnehmer 1950-2010; Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Statistik über die Äußerungen des kirchlichen Lebens in den Gliedkirchen der EKD im Jahr 2010, Hannover 2011;
* Annual participation in Lord’s Supper.
** 1963 value

Data from social surveys also attest a widespread decline in church attendance among the German population over the last 20 years. In Western Germany, the percentage of respondents who attend religious services at least once a month, declined from 33,9% in 1990 to 24% in 2008. In the same way, the percentage of respondents who practically never go to church, increased from 19,7% to 27,1% in 2008. In Eastern Germany, church attendance is generally lower than in Western Germany and has declined even further over time. Thus, while in 1990 16,6% of respondents stated to attend religious services at least once a month, this number decreased to 8,8% in 2008. Likewise, the percentage of respondents, who practically never go to church, increased to 69,5% in 2008.

D 14 September 2012    AMatthias Koenig ASabine Trittler

Frequency of attendance of religious service (in %)

Question: “Apart from weddings, funerals and christenings, about how often do you attend religious services these days?” WEST19901995200020052008 More than once a week 3,4 2,6 2,6 1,4 1,3 Once (...)

Question: “Apart from weddings, funerals and christenings, about how often do you attend religious services these days?”

WEST19901995200020052008
More than once a week 3,4 2,6 2,6 1,4 1,3
Once a week 15,2 10,8 12,8 11,2 8,6
Once a month 15,3 10,9 18,5 14,9 14,1
Only on special holy days/Christmas/Easter days OR other specific holy days 16,5 12,4 21,2 20,2 25,7
Once a year 8,7 12,4 8,1 7,0 5,9
Less often 20,9 15,2 13,9 18,9 16,6
Practically never 19,7 34,5 22,3 23,2 27,1
No answer 0,3 0,6 2,2 0,4
Don’t know 0,0 1,2 0,1 0,9 0,4
EAST
More than once a week 2,1 1,7 0,3 0,6 0,3
Once a week 6,7 3,2 5,2 2,9 3,3
Once a month 7,8 4,0 6,8 6,6 5,2
Only on special holy days/Christmas/Easter days OR other specific holy days 13,8 8,0 14,9 12,1 8,5
Once a year 10,1 10,3 4,0 8,0 6,9
Less often 13,9 8,0 12,1 10,8 6,1
Practically never 45,7 63,5 56,2 57,1 69,5
No answer 0,0 0,0 0,4 1,9 0,0
Don’t know 0,0 1,3 0,1 0,0 0,2

Source: World Values Surveys/European Values Studies; own calculations.

D 14 September 2012    AMatthias Koenig ASabine Trittler

Frequency of prayer

Alongside with participation rate, the frequency of prayer also declined from 2000 to 2008 in East and West Germany. Thus, while in 2000 38,2% of the respondents in West Germany and 16,6% in East (...)

Alongside with participation rate, the frequency of prayer also declined from 2000 to 2008 in East and West Germany. Thus, while in 2000 38,2% of the respondents in West Germany and 16,6% in East Germany stated that they pray to God at least once a week, the number is only 30,8% and 12% in 2008.

Frequency of prayer in 2000 and 2008 (in %)

Question: “How often do you pray to God outside of religious services? Would you say ...”

WestEast
2000200820002008
Every day 12,9 10,7 5,9 4,8
More than once week 16,2 12,2 7,1 4,5
Once a week 9,1 7,9 3,6 2,7
At least once a month 8,4 9,7 4,1 1,8
Several times a year 7,1 9,5 5,5 4,1
Less often 13,1 17,4 7,0 7,2
Never 27,6 27,4 65,4 72,4
No answer 4,1 2,7 1,1 2,4
Don’t know 1,4 2,7 0,3 0,2

Source: World Values Surveys/European Values Studies; own calculations.

Frequency of prayer in 1990 (in %)

Question: “How often do you pray to God outside of religious services? Would you say ...”

WestEast
Often 20,2 11,8
Sometimes 22,3 12,5
Hardly ever 16,5 7,5
Only in times of crisis 11,6 12,9
Never 21,8 50,3
No answer 0,4 0,6
Don´t know 7,2 4,4

Source: World Values Surveys/European Values Studies; own calculations.

D 14 September 2012    AMatthias Koenig ASabine Trittler

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