German Language Blog

Deutschland und Weltreligionen – Germany and world religions Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Culture, Language, Traditions

Recently I was talking to my Australian friend and I asked him what he finds interesting about the German culture. He broached the subject religion. He told me that he had noticed a trend of Atheism in the newly formed states of Germany. This trend is grounded in the history of East Germany.

When in 1949 the German Democratic Republic was founded, 92% of its population were Christians. The two largest religious communities were Protestants and Catholics. During the socialistic regime of the GDR, a non-religious conception of the world was propagated and religious believers and churches were repressed. This form of de-christianization seemed to work. In 1964, 68 % of the citizens of the GDR stated that they belonged to a Christian denomination, whereas in 1990, at the time of the reunification, only 25% of the people avowed themselves Christians.

Although religion seems to play a minor role in the newly formed states, in comparison to the old West German states, it does not mean that you would only meet people who do not believe in God. It is true that religion in this part of Germany is a private matter rather than a public one.

Moreover, you can find other religions in Germany nowadays, too. According to my search on the internet, there are about 60 million Christians, 5 million Muslims, 250,000 Buddhists, 200,000 Jews, and 90,000 Hindus living in Germany. About 30,000 people are undenominational and the rest belongs to other religious communities.

Below you can find a very easy text in German, which I wrote to give you the chance to practice your reading skills. In my next post I will give you the English translation and a vocabulary list, so that you check if you got everything right.

Reading exercise

Das Christentum, das Judentum, der Hinduismus, der Buddhismus und der Islam gehören zu den Weltreligionen. Jede dieser Religionen hat ihr eigenes Gotteshaus. Christen gehen in die Kirche. Muslime beten in der Moschee. Hindus besuchen den Tempel. Juden treffen sich in der Synagoge. Buddhisten gehen in den Tempel oder in die Pagode.

Die Zehn Gebote sind das Glaubensbekenntnis des Christentums und des Judentums. Die Fünf Säulen des Islams sind die grundlegenden Praktiken des Islams. Die Vier Edlen Wahrheiten und der Edle achtfache Pfad sind das Glaubensbekenntnis des Buddhismus. Der Hinduismus hat kein allgemeingültiges Glaubensbekenntnis.

Jede dieser Religionen hat ebenso ihre eigenen Geistlichen. Der Pfarrer hält Predigten für Christen. Der Rabbi lehrt die religiöse Lehre des Judentums. Der Muezzin ruft alle Muslime zum Gebet. Der Dalai Lama ist der politische und religiöse Führer der tibetischen Buddhisten. Der Brahmane lehrt den Hindus den Veda.

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Aurora:

    I think it is sad that Germany, home of the reformation, has become largely non-Christian. This didn’t happen overnight, of course. Obviously, the German people need a revival of the Holy Spirit. God isn’t a subject or a hobby. He is real and all consuming.
    Most of the now violence-torn muslim world of the middle east was once the Kingdom of God on earth, a Christian empire. They were Christianized nations eventually taken over by the sword of mohammedanism. But apathy begets loss of Life.
    I’m sorry to see this and I hope it will change soon!

  2. cecilia cloughly:

    Dear Sanroesner:
    I am the Education Editor for German World Magazine and would like to reprint it in our next issue (deadline around March 1). May we have permission to do this? We would, of course, credit you (by real name, preferably) and plug your German Blog by Transparent Language. Please use my e-mail.

  3. Kris:


    Well said. I think the biggest reason why Germany really lacks proclaiming Christians, was simply because religion was a resource used with Hitler to gain the hearts of the people. Now if you look at religion to the average German, I’m sure religion now has a negative connotation, rather than looking at the real Christianity, which is Jesus Christ himself. Being a religious Christian is one thing, knowing Jesus Christ is a whole nothing meaning of life.

  4. Kris:

    Sorry…that was not suppose to say “nothing” rather “new” meaning of life.

  5. Low Key:

    I look forward to the rise of the old religions and the diminishment of the invading middle eastern religions of the book.

  6. Aurora:

    I’m not sure what “Low Key” means by the old religions. I DO see alot of pagan things still holding on in Europe (Mardi Gras, Fastnacht, etc.) I wish they would go. If Europe would turn to the one true God, the Living God who created us, it would become a prosperous, stable and safe place, blessed by God Himself.
    True Christianity needs to be embraced in Europe—not religion for religion’s sake, nor mohamedanism, nor pagan rituals, nor humanism. Europe and America—and all nations—-need the real thing.