German clergy tends to lean left, study shows


Central Europe


The Cologne Cathedral (L) and the church Gross St Martin (R) are seen in the background as a man hoists a rainbow flag. Photo AFP, Oliver Berg

German Protestant pastors and religion teachers are quite left-liberal in their political positions. That is what a study shows.

The theologian, Prof. Alexander Dietz from the University of Hannover, questioned 407 workers in the theological field.

In his study “Climate Protection or Resurrection”, Dietz attests that the church has more of a left-liberal position. This reinforces the accusation that the Protestant Church is sometimes subject to a political and ethical one-sidedness, writes the German Christian magazine PRO. However, the respondents also strongly support Reformation positions and contents of the creed.


The study shows that 85 per cent of the respondents are convinced that the statement “Preserving creation through climate protection” has a high, or relatively high, priority for their preaching or educational work. A “welcoming culture towards migrants” is vital for 83 per cent of the respondents. “Tolerance towards different sexual orientations” for 69 per cent, writes German press agency IDEA.

In the subject area “Contents of the Creed” the statement “God is the Creator of heaven and earth” had the highest approval (86 per cent), for 85 per cent the statement “Jesus resurrected from the dead” was also highly valued. Only 12.4 per cent of those surveyed gave the statement “The Last Judgment” a high priority.

With almost 50 per cent agreement, the statement “Christ as the only mediator between God and man” was rated as particularly important, which belongs to the field “Contents of the Reformation Confession”. However, 78 per cent gave the statement “justification not by good works” a high priority.

Conservative positions achieved significantly lower approval rates: “Improving the legal protection of unborn life” (27.4 per cent), “Society’s commitment to a dominant Christian culture” (24.3 per cent), “Model of the traditional family” (11,6 per cent). The question about the family model has turned out to be particularly controversial, said Dietz in the study results.

The difference between men and women is comparatively small; it is most significant in the left-liberal positions, where women agreed almost nine percentage points more than men. Pastors also agreed more specifically with the Reformation confession than other professional groups.

Dietz summarises his study results that the tendency towards left-liberal positions runs the risk of experiencing a further “narrowing of the milieu concerning church target groups”. From the heterogeneous response behaviour of the respondents, Dietz interprets a trend towards “religious individualisation”. This represents a significant challenge because the church professions are intended to donate “conscience” and have a “socially reconciling” effect.



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