Acceptance of religious and non-confessional diversity in Germany

2016

Results of a representative survey

- Factsheet on the research project -

Attitudes towards the members of different groups

  • The general attitude towards the members of various religious groups in Germany is predominantly positive. For example, a total of 92 percent of those interviewed had a predominantly positive, or even very positive, attitude towards Christians. Eighty-four percent took a benevolent view of persons of the Jewish faith, 81 percent felt the same way about Buddhists and 73 percent about Hindus.
  • By comparison, the attitude of interviewees towards persons of the Muslim faith was characterised by a relatively high degree of ambivalence. As many as one-third openly admitted to having a rather negative (25 percent) or a very negative image (8 percent) of persons of the Muslim faith.
  • The great majority of those interviewed took a positive view (88 percent rather/very positive) of persons with no religious affiliation. 

Opinions on the principle of equal treatment

  • Three-thirds (75 percent) of all persons in Germany support the statement that all religious groups in Germany should basically have the same rights. However, when it comes to assenting to concrete measures to strengthen the rights of non-Christian religious communities, a more differentiated picture emerges.
  • For example, the construction of burial places for non-Christian religious communities or the expansion of religious instruction for members of smaller religious communities is advocated by a majority (76 and 69 percent respectively).
  • Other measures, however, are viewed much more critically. The demand that the construction of religious buildings and prayer rooms for non-Christian religious communities be facilitated meets with the acceptance of only just under half of those surveyed (48 percent). Merely four out of ten people (42 percent) support granting a day off to persons belonging to religious minorities on the holy days that are important for their religion.

Attitude to the wearing of religious symbols in public schools

  • In response to the question of whether or not teachers at public schools should be allowed to wear religious symbols, there is disunity among persons living in Germany, to a major extent regardless of which religious symbol is under discussion.
  • Approval and rejection are roughly balanced. This applies to the wearing of head scarves in the case of Muslim teachers (42 versus 57 percent) as well as to Christian teachers wearing a priest's habit in class (44 versus 56 percent). 

Additional survey findings

  • Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed consider it unjust that religious communities and/or their facilities are allowed, under specific conditions, to require a declaration of belief in their religion as a precondition for employment.
  • At least one-third of those interviewed (33 percent) consider the strengthening of religious diversity through the influx of refugees into Germany as rather an enrichment for society. By contrast, 50 percent, or half of those interviewed, are more concerned that this diversity could lead to conflicts. One out of seven persons (15 percent) sees this situation as both an enrichment and as a potential cause of conflict.