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Religious opinions, beliefs and attitudes

Subjective religiosity and belief

In contrast to the continuous decline in religious participation and practice, the data show a slightly different picture in regard to subjective religiosity and religious belief. Concerning religious self-assessment, 54,3% in West Germany considered themselves as a religious person in 1990; a figure which remained comparatively stable until 2008. In East Germany, the decrease in individual religiosity is also connected to a decrease in subjective religiosity. Here, the percentage of respondents considering themselves as religious declined from 32,3% in 1990 to 17,2% in 2008.
Furthermore, the belief in God or a Higher being is also rather widespread among the German population compared to the participation rates. Altogether, data for 2000 show that 74% believe in God or a Higher being, with Catholics being the most religious (84% of Catholics, 71% of Protestants). However, 52% of the respondents without religious affiliation also stated to believe in God or a Higher being.

Pollack, Detlef und Gert Pickel (2003). „De-Institutionalisierung des Religiösen und religiöse Individualisierung in Ost- und Westdeutschland“. In: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 55: 447-474.

Religious self-assessment (in %)

Question: “Independently of whether you go to church or not, would you say you are…”

West19901995200020052008
A religious person 54,3 63,0 58,1 54,8 52,7
Not a religious person 26,4 26,0 31,2 32,4 35,1
A convinced atheist 2,4 7,3 4,2 4,3 5,2
No answer 0,1 0 1,4 2,9 0,9
Don’t know 16,8 3,7 5,1 5,6 6,2
East
A religious person 32,3 27,4 26,8 27,7 17,2
Not a religious person 37,2 45,2 46,0 39,4 56,5
A convinced atheist 17,3 25,4 20,9 31,0 22,7
No answer 0,3 0 1,6 1,0 1,0
Don’t know 13,0 2,1 4,6 1,0 2,5

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

D 14 September 2012    AMatthias Koenig ASabine Trittler

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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