How is secularism relevant to society

Religious politics

Gert pimple

To person

is Professor of Religious and Church Sociology at the Institute for Practical Theology at the University of Leipzig.
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Religiosity is the individual expression of the religious. Their distribution in a population provides information about the social significance of religion in a society as well as about its current social impact. The structure and distribution of religiosity also say something about the legitimacy of religious communities. For example, a church as a social form of the religious can sooner or later only have social significance if there are believers with reference to it and if it represents a sufficient number of members.

This turn leads directly to the first major trend in religious development in post-war Germany: [1] After a considerable return of the Germans to the churches after the Second World War, a steady process of secularization began in the late 1960s. This is linked to a steady decline in the number of members of the two major Christian churches and a decline in participation in, in particular, community religious practices such as attending church services on Sundays. This process continues to this day, so that for a number of years the non-religious have been the largest "ideological" group in Germany.

Reunification in 1990 also contributed to this development. At the time of the GDR's accession to the federal territory, three quarters of East Germans were without a denomination. This initial situation not only changed the religious composition in reunified Germany, but also led to two religiously very different areas: In West Germany, despite all the demolition developments of the Christian churches there, there is still a "culture of denominational affiliation", while in East Germany there is a "culture of non-denominationalism "continues. [3] Because of its cognitive roots, this distinction exceeds structural differences in the distribution of religiosity between Protestant northern Germany and Catholic southern Germany as well as between urban and rural areas.

Nevertheless, the churches in Germany as a whole still have a broad cultural presence, and in 2018 around two thirds of Germans are still members of a religious community (illustration 1). However, there are more and more members of different orientations of Islam as well as Orthodox Christians. This statement refers to religious pluralization processes, the second major trend in the development of religiosity in Germany, which is much more present in public discourse under the heading "return of religions" than the advancing secularization. [4]

(& copy Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences Cologne, general population survey of the social sciences (Allbus).)

Looking at the past two decades, there is another trend, so that the development of religiosity in Germany can be summarized as the interplay of three unevenly strong processes, which I would like to address below: secularization, religious pluralization and religious individualization. These developments are not unique to Germany. They fit into comparable developments in religiosity in Western Europe and many Eastern European countries since 1989, albeit with varying degrees of strength. [5]