DW quotes data published on Friday by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) that states that Germany’s Catholic Church lost 216,078 members and Protestant churches lost some 220,000 in 2018.
In total, around 23 million German citizens are still members of the Catholic Church and 21.14 million are members of the Protestant churches. The two groups account for 53.2% of the country’s total population of over 83 million.
Hans Langendörfer, secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, described Friday’s figures as a “worrying” statistic.
Church membership can officially be renounced by making a declaration in person at a local government agency, sometimes a district court. There is no need to provide any reason for wanting to leave.
Unless they renounce their membership with an official declaration, members of the Catholic and Protestant churches pay up to 9% of their taxable income as church tax, generating billions of euros in income for both organizations. The money is automatically deducted, just like payroll taxes or social insurance.