BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - Religion and religious communities

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Religion and religious communities

The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to everyone in Germany. Freedom of religion includes choosing your religion freely, professing it with others, as well as not belonging to any religion. A central element of freedom of religion is that all religions are treated equally. There is therefore no State Church under the Basic Law. The State must remain neutral with regard to the religions. It may not favour or disadvantage any religion. There is however a partnership between the State and the religious communities.

Religious communities

The vast majority of people in Germany are Christians: More than 24 million people in Germany belong to the Catholic Church, almost as many as belong to the Protestant Church. But Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, as well as members of many other religious societies, are also part of German society. Muslims, accounting for around 4 million people, are the third-largest faith community in the country.

Religion in everyday life

The laws concerning Sundays and holidays take Christian festivals into account, for example, Christmas and Easter. It is possible in some Federal Länder to exempt children from school on days on which other religions are celebrating a particular festival.

Parents can decide if their child should attend religious instruction at school. As a rule, Protestant and Catholic religious instruction classes are offered in schools. Christian Orthodox and Jewish religious instruction classes may also be held where required. Islamic religious instruction classes, held in German, are being piloted in most of the Federal Länder in Western Germany. There are plans to expand the pilot in many of the Federal Länder.

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Ask your child’s teacher about the regulations and programmes offered in your Federal Land and at your child’s school.

Date 17 December 2015

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