More than half a million people left the church in Germany last year. The number of Catholics was 272,771, 26 percent more than in 2018. Among the Protestants, around 270 percent more people left the church than in the previous year with 270,000 withdrawals. The two large churches have lost more than 540,000 members in one year. The figures were reported by the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) in Bonn and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in Hanover.

The number of withdrawals from the Catholic Church was significantly higher than the previous negative record of 2014. After an abuse scandal, the financial affair around the Limburg bishop's house and changes in church tax collection, the value at that time was 217,000.

"Alienation between Church Members and Religious Life"

In 2019, a total of 22.6 million people belonged to the Catholic Church in Germany. Catholics make up 27.2 percent of the total population. In 2018, it was 23 million or 27.7 percent. The decline is also due to demographic reasons: the number of church burials was significantly higher than the number of baptisms. The number of admissions and readmissions also decreased.

The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, was concerned about the development: "There is nothing to be said about the 2019 statistical figures presented today," he said. "The number of church leaving shows that the estrangement between church members and a religious life in the church community has become even stronger." The church had to ask itself whether it still spoke the right language in order to reach today's people, Bätzing demanded. She also had to regain trust after a significant loss of credibility through transparency and honesty.

Less tax revenue because of Corona

The Evangelical Church in Germany still has 20.7 million people. "Every single exit hurts, not least because all employees are highly motivated," said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, President of the EKD Council. "He promised:" The Church wants to change and is already doing so. "

In this way, new digitized formats emerged during the Corona crisis that were well received. In general, Bedford-Strohm sees a chance in Corona. "Many people are now experiencing that the sudden interruption in life so far and the uncertainty of how it will continue to be difficult to endure. Faith gives strength to this."

However, due to the pandemic, the EKD expects church tax revenues to decrease significantly this year - by 10 to 25 percent, depending on economic developments. The Catholic Church also expects significantly less church tax revenue due to the Corona crisis.