Islamic Religious Education in German State Schools

Eva-Maria Euchner and Kathrin Hackner

State-Church Relations and the Muslim

Communities in Germany

Since the reunification in 1990, Germany has been a federal republic, containing 16 constituent states or Bundesländer. Currently, the majority of German citizens (37%) do not have any religious affiliation (Fowid, 2018), and Germany has become largely secularised over the past decades. Notwithstanding this secularisation, the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches are still two dominant religious confessions to which more than half of the German population belongs (28% Roman Catholic, 26% Protestant) (Fowid, 2018). Muslims constitute the third-largest religious community and account for 4.1% to 6.1% of the total population (Stichs, 2016; Pew Research Center, 2017).

As a result of history, religion - and in particular the Christian faith -is still strongly interwoven with state politics. Formally, the relation between church and state in Germany was classified as a kind of inbetween model - between a state church, as in the UK for example, and a strict model of separation between state and church, such as in France. In order to understand this church-state system, it is important to be familiar with the distinction between officially recognised religious communities on the one hand and non-recognised religious organisations on the other. In article 137 (5, 6) of the Weimar Constitution, the term “religious community” is linked to the status of a “public legal corporation” {Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechtes}, which creates proximity to the state and provides certain privileges - for example, tax exemptions, participation in state bodies, and the right to organise religious education (RE) in state schools (SVR, 2016). 1

Today, the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches are the main religious communities recognised as public legal corporations. In addition, several smaller religious communities (e.g., the Jewish community, the Old Catholic Community, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches) and a few “philosophical” communities (e.g., der Bund für Geistesfreiheit Bayern and die Freireligiöse Landesgemeinde Pfalz) are recognised. Several states have also recognised as public legal

Islamic Religious Education in Germany 145 corporations some non-mainstream religions, including Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the New Apostolic Church. In 2013, Hesse was the first state to recognise two Islamic religious organisations {Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat and DITIB Landesverband Hessen) as public legal corporations. Hamburg and Bremen followed and negotiated treaties with Islamic religious organisations (Gorzewski, 2013;, 2012). Apart from that, there is as yet no Islamic community recognised in Germany.

This absence of recognised Islamic communities is related to the criteria for recognition, which are not always easy to fulfil for the diverse Islamic communities. In this regard, four crucial criteria for recognition are mentioned by de Wall (2008, 2): (1) the community must encompass a “natürliche Person';2 (2) it has to have a clear organisational structure and demonstrate continuity, (3) its main purpose has to be the “cultivation of the common religious confession”, and (4) religious communities have to be characterised by the fulfilment of their obligations resulting from the faith.

Due to fragmentation and the lack of uniform organisational structures within Islam (Chbib, 2011), obtaining recognition as a public legal corporation is one of the major challenges for Muslims in Germany. This also has repercussions for Islamic religious education (IRE): Although the recognition of a religious community for the establishment of RE does not necessarily presuppose the status of a public legal corporation, the organisational requirements to become the state’s partner in regulating RE are quite difficult to fulfil for non-Christian groups such as Muslims. Accordingly, it is hard for Islamic religious communities to organise IRE. Moreover, because the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches and the German state is much closer than formally described in the key articles of the German Basic Law,3 several institutional constraints in practice limit religious freedom and rights for non-Christian religions, in particular Islam. Not surprisingly, the Federal Constitutional Court in Germany has stated that the separation of church and state in Germany is “beset with difficulties” (Monsma and Soper, 2009, 183; Rothgangel and Ziebertz, 2013, 45), as can be illustrated by the organisation of RE in state schools.

Religion and Education in Germany: General Overview

In Germany’s federal system, education policy is principally regulated at the regional state level. RE is, however, a specific case because it is the only subject defined more precisely in the Basic Law (Dietrich, 2006). The regulations for RE can be found in article 7 (3) of the Basic Law and article 137 of the Weimar Constitution. RE is defined as a regular curriculum subject, although under article 7 (2) of the Basic Law, opting out from RE is possible. Whilst the federal state provides the financial and human resources for RE, the religious communities are responsible for its content and inspection, teacher training, and appointment of teachers (Kießling, 2016; Jarass and Pieroth, 2016).

Before discussing the place of Islam within national life and education, it is important to point out that this contribution focuses only on RE in state schools (which are the majority of schools in Germany) and disregards private or so-called non-governmental schools. In 2016, around 7.6 million students attended a state school and about 750,600 students attended a private school (Destatis, 2018). However, private schools are enjoying increasing popularity in Germany, the proportion of students attending private schools rising from 7% in 2006 to 9% in 2016 (Destatis, 2018).

A large proportion of these private schools are educational establishments with church sponsorship. According to current information from the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD, 2018), there are 632 (mainly elementary) schools run by the Protestant Church in Germany. As of 2015-2016, the Catholic Church maintained 689 schools, attended by about 310,000 students. Dioceses, ecclesiastical school foundations, or associations like Caritas act as trustees. These Catholic or Protestant religious schools are, in general, financed by three different sources: government funds, self-funding, and donations or school fees (, 2017; Ohm, 2018).

The Place of Islam Within National Life and Education

At present, Islam has become an integral part of German society (Triadafilopoulos and Rahman, 2016). According to the latest estimates of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), about 4.4 to 4.7 million Muslims live in Germany, a number that has increased substantially in recent years due to the refugee crisis. Since the last census1 in 2011, an additional 1.2 million Muslims have immigrated to Germany, about 27.3% of the total number of Muslims that were already living in the country. Ninety-eight percent of Muslims in Germany live in the old federal states, whilst only 2% live in the new ones (Haug, Müssig and Stichs, 2009) (Figure 9.1).5

One consequence of the recent refugee flow is the increased diversification of the countries of origin of Muslims. For many years, the Islamic community in Germany was characterised by a large majority of people of Turkish descent (67.5%), but this proportion has decreased to 50.6% as most Muslims who have recently arrived in Germany have come from the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia (Stichs, 2016). The majority of Muslims (72%) belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, followed byAlevis (14%) and Shiites (7%). The religiosity of Muslims living in Germany is rather high: In a study conducted in 2008, 36% of the participating Muslims described themselves as “very religious” and 50% as “rather religious” (Haug, Müssig and Stichs, 2009, 13).

Percentage of Muslim population across German states (in %)

Figure 9.1 Percentage of Muslim population across German states (in %).

Source: Haug Miissig and Sticks, 2009, 107.

In recent decades, Muslims have been increasingly calling for recognition of their religious practices. This often leads to controversial debates about things such as the construction of mosques or the circumcision of newborns. With regard to education and Islam, the participation of Muslim pupils, especially girls, in mixed-gender sports and swimming lessons, sex education, or school trips can be problematic in public discourse. However, Haug et al. (2009) could not find evidence for this problem; there were only minor differences between Muslim pupils and members of other religious groups. Their research did, nevertheless, discover significant differences regarding participation in RE: Muslim pupils overall attend RE significantly less often at school than Christian pupils, probably because of the lack of IRE classes. This is in contrast to the demand for IRE in German state schools, which is high: 76% of Muslims support the establishment of IRE as a regular school subject, and this demand is especially high among Sunni Muslims (84%) (Haug et al., 2009).

The choice to opt out from school on Islamic holidays has also been regularly debated. Currently, such opting out is possible in ten federal states for the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr (islamiQ, 2018). Another issue has been the request by some Muslim families for halal food in state schools, a request which was rejected in North Rhine Westphalia on the grounds of neutrality in state schools (Fengler, 2018). Other issues that have attracted controversy have concerned wearing the headscarf in public areas (SVR, 2016) and the ban on wearing the burqa, which was partially enforced in 2017 (Spohn, 2018, 314-330). The terrorist attacks by the so-called Islamic State in France (2015) as well as in Belgium and in Berlin (2016) further politicised the discussion of topics related to the religious freedom of Muslims. In sum, although many Germans agree that Islam has become an integral part of the society, they are far more reluctant to legalise policies that are closely related to Islam. This also includes the legalisation of IRE, as will become clear in the next section.

(Islamic) Religious Education in Germany:

The Current Situation6

Numerically, RE in Germany is dominated by the Christian faith (see Figure 9.2), and IRE is attended only by 1% of all pupils. In 2017, 33.6% of the pupils in state schools participated in Catholic RE and 35.2% in Protestant RE. Another 18.6% took part in alternative ethics classes, and 5.5% attended philosophy lessons (KMK, 2019, 3). RE is offered as a regular and denominational school subject in 13 German federal states: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia (KMK, 2002a, 2002b). Although the state is responsible for the implementation of RE, approval from both church and state is required before an RE curriculum is put into practice. The majority of states provide two lessons per week (KMK, 2002a, 2002b), and the content of teaching is very similar both between states and between Catholic and Protestant denominations (Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, 2006; EKD, 2000). For pupils of other faiths, or those who do not want to join

Participants in different models of RE in state schools in 2017-18 (in %)

Figure 9.2 Participants in different models of RE in state schools in 2017-18 (in %).

Source: KMK, 2019, 3.’

Christian RE, most states provide alternative lessons in ethics, philosophy, or other substitutes (KMK, 2019).

In some German states, sometimes under the so-called Bremen Clause, RE is not a compulsory subject. In Berlin, for example, RE is an optional elective subject and not part of the official timetable (KMK, 2002a). Other states such as Hamburg, Bremen, or Brandenburg offer nonconfessional or dialogical interfaith RE. In Hamburg, for instance, so-called RE for all takes place. At present, it is carried out under the leadership of the Protestant Church (Landeskirche'), but since 2013, an inter-religious network has been developing a new RE model called “Dialogischer Religionsunterricht'', for which the Protestant Church in Northern Germany is collaborating with the Jewish community of Hamburg, several Islamic religious communities, and the Alevi community. In Bremen, RE for All (Religion) is organised in an integrative and non-denominational way, and the Advisory Council of the Religious Communities can shape the content of the Lehrplan (Spieß, 2014). In Brandenburg, students can participate in the subject Lebensgestaltung-Ethik-Religion (LER) (Conduct of Life-Ethics-Religion). Alternatively or additionally, pupils may join confessional RE (Land Brandenburg, 2019). They may, however, also opt out from confessional RE and/or from LER.

The diversity in how RE is organised is also reflected in the organisa-tion of IRE (Euchner, 2018). Several states organise IRE in a confessional way, as a regular school subject (1) or as trials (2). Other states offer non-confessional education about Islam as trials (3). Finally, (4) some states do not offer any kind of IRE at all, as shown in Table 9.1. In the following section, we will elaborate on these different ways of organising IRE.

Table 9.1 Models of IRE in Germany in 2019

Model 1

IRE as a regular and confessional subject

Model 2

Trial of IRE as a confessional subject


Trial of education about Islam

Model 4



Lower Saxony

North Rhine-








Mecklenburg Western Pomerania

Saxony Saxony-Anhalt Thuringia Brandenburg Hamburg

Source: Own illustration based on Mediendienst-integratlon, 2018. Note: Berlin and Bremen are not included as there are specific regulations for these states due to the Bremen Clause in Art. 141 of the German basic law.

Trials of Non-Denominational and Non-Confessional

Islamic Religious Education

Trials of non-denominational, non-confessional IRE currently take place in two German states: Bavaria since 2003 and Schleswig-Holstein since 2007. In both states, the design and organisation of education about Islam lies in the hands of the state. Cooperation with Islamic religious associations is minimal and appears mostly at the regional level (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Unterricht und Kultus, 2015; Landesportal Schleswig-Holstein, 2019).

Denominational Islamic Religious Education as a Regular Subject

In the states of Hesse, Lower Saxony, and North Rhine-Westphalia, denominational IRE is, in addition to Catholicism, Protestantism, and ethics, a regular school subject, although students have the right to opt out. In 2012, North Rhine-Westphalia was the first German state to introduce IRE as a regular subject. Here, the diverse Islamic religious communities demanding IRE were able to unite in a single advisory council, the Beirat für Islamischen Religionsunterricht in NRW, which was founded specifically for the purposes of IRE and continues to serve as coordinating organ between these communities and the state (Bildungsportal NRW, no date). In addition, a neutral subject, Education About Islam, is offered at some schools, but in the future this will gradually be replaced by denominational IRE (Stiftung Zentrum für Tûrkeistudien und Integrationsforschung, 2015).

A similar approach can be found in Lower Saxony where, since 2013, cooperation between the state and Muslims has taken place through an advisory council (SVR, 2016). Hesse has also offered IRE as a regular school subject since 2013, making it the first federal state in Germany to officially recognise two Islamic religious organisations (Ahmadiyya MuslimJamaat And DITIB LandesverbandHessen e.V.) as public legal organisations. These two organisations cooperate directly with the Hessian Ministry of Culture (Hessisches Kultusministerium [HKM]), no date)

Trials of Denominational Islamic Religious Education

The first trials of denominational, confessional IRE were introduced in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland. Baden-Württemberg launched a trial in 2006, and a project advisory board representing various Islamic associations is the state’s contact entity. In Rhineland-Palatinate, trials have taken place since 2004 (Bildungsserver Rheinland-Pfalz, 2018), and in order to realise these, the state cooperates with several regional Islamic associations individually. In 2015, Saarland became the latest state to launch a trial of denominational IRE (Mediendienst Integration, 2018).


Participants in IRE models in state schools in 2015-16 and 2017-18

Figure 9.3 Participants in IRE models in state schools in 2015-16 and 2017-18.

Sources: Own illustration based on KMK, 2016, 2019.*

Overall, the current offering of IRE appears to be very well received by Muslim pupils, as evidenced by an increasing number of participants across the German states (see Figure 9.3). In 2015, around 19,000 students attended confessionally oriented IRE nation-wide, a number that grew to 25,000 in 2017. The neutral alternative, education about Islam, has also become more popular as the number of participants has grown from around 13,000 in 2015 to more than 17,000 in 2017 (KMK, 2016, 2019).

Islamic Religious Education in Germany: Curricula, Textbooks, Teacher Training, and Inspections

Curricula and Inspection

Although German states regulate IRE very differently, teaching is rather uniformly structured, at least in those states that offer IRE as a regular subject or as a trial model. The IRE curriculum is very similar in all states, as well as in relation to Christian RE (Hackner, 2019). It includes, for example, topics such as “living in the community”, “the question of God”, “religious places”, “holy scriptures”, and “other confessions” (EKD,

2000; Sekretariat der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, 2006). In terms of IRE, this means that pupils are, for instance, taught about Allah and his creation of the world, the Prophet Muhammad, and other important prophets of Islam. Relevant topics such as the Quran, the Sunnah, and Islamic religious traditions are also taught, as well as the confrontation with other religions and their traditions (Ministerium für Schule und Bildung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, no date). Additional elements of the IRE curriculum are humanity’s responsibility for the world and peaceful coexistence.

Apart from the confessional orientation, the curricula for IRE and for education about Islam are rather similar. This curricular uniformity is not surprising because, from a legal perspective, the content of IRE must be compatible with the educational goals of the state and should not propagate intolerance or violence (Tillmanns, 2013). 9

Textbooks and Teacher Training

The establishment of IRE has often been scientifically evaluated regarding its organisation and quality. Here, we limit the description of the survey results to three states (North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Bavaria) considered exemplary in representing the three prevalent models of regulating IRE in Germany.

The introduction of IRE as a regular subject in North Rhine-Westphalia was evaluated at three different points in time. Both the students and the parents were very satisfied with IRE in the state schools, and all felt that the teaching of IRE had a socially integrating effect. High approval ratings were also found in the teachers’ answers, although they explicitly asked for additional learning and teaching material as well as further training. Additionally, they raised concerns about the transparency of the process by which Muslim teachers were recruited (Uslucan & Yalcin, 2018).

Rhineland-Palatinate, which introduced IRE as trial model, also evaluated the performance of IRE teachers. This evaluation indicated that there was still some need for greater interdisciplinary cooperation, and differences in the professional qualification of teachers were criticised. The integration of IRE into school life was rated positively, and the acceptance of IRE was very high among all respondents. However, many interviewees requested a more systematic exchange with representatives of the Islamic religious community as well as advanced training for teachers and additional teaching materials (Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Jugend und Kultur Rheinland-Pfalz, 2010).

Finally, Bavaria’s “neutral model” of teaching Islam was evaluated in 2014. Overall, the survey shows a positive evaluation of the organisation and quality of the lessons as well as a strong acceptance of the new subject. Although 50-70% of teachers used the approved textbooks, their

Islamic Religious Education in Germany 153 partial incompatibility with the curriculum was criticised, and around 50% of Islamic teachers said they found it hard to find learning and teaching material in German. Finally, many interviewees believed that “education about Islam” positively affects personality building and promotes interfaith dialogue (Holzberger, 2014).

The different evaluations pointed to similar problems, particularly with respect to the training of teachers and the provision of teaching material. Overall, Germany still lacks a uniform and professional system of IRE teacher education. Only in 2010 did a few universities -including Osnabrück, Munster, Frankfurt am Main, Tübingen, and Erlangen - implement study programmes and professorial chairs for Islamic theology (Lange, 2014), but few students have graduated thus far. Accordingly, the growing demand for IRE teachers in schools is still covered by lecturers who have alternative qualifications to a classical university degree.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, for instance, teachers need two teaching permits, one from the state and the so-called Ijaza from the advisory council for IRE (Ministerium für Schule und Bildung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2018). The University of Munster is currently the only university in the state that offers Islamic theology and directly trains teachers for IRE. The demand for Islamic theology is very high and exceeds the current capacities of academic staff (Zafar, 2018). Today, teachers from other subjects who also want to teach IRE can participate in a special one-year certificate course. After completing this course, an interview with the advisory council for IRE is necessary in order to finally receive the Idschaza (Beirat für den Islamischen Religionsunterricht in NRW, 2019).

Rhineland-Palatinate, by contrast, does not currently have a center for Islamic studies but cooperates with Baden-Württemberg. A qualification as an IRE teacher is open to two different groups: (1) Muslim teachers, who are already teaching in Rhineland-Palatinate and can participate in an in-teacher training course at the University of Education, Karlsruhe; and (2) Islamic scholars with a religious focus, or Islamic theologians, although they require a certificate for an additional pedagogical qualification.

Finally, in 2012 Bavaria established a Department of Islamic Religious Studies at the FAU, Erlangen-Nuremberg (Rohe and Jaraba, 2018). Education about Islam is currently offered as a supplementary subject in addition to university teacher training or other degree programmes. The study programme is not bound to a religious confession. The granting of permission to teach IRE, which in principle does require Islamic confession, lies at the discretion of the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Culture.

In conclusion, we can say that the academic establishment of Islamic theology at German universities and the standardisation of the academic training of teachers for IRE are at a very early stage of development.

Given the urgent need for well-trained IRE teachers, different training opportunities for IRE teachers have been established in the German states as a temporary solution. However, this “parallel regime” has resulted in differences in the quality of teaching and is even criticised by the representatives of Islamic religious communities. According to them, IRE teachers sometimes lack a strong commitment to Islam or do not receive appropriate educational training (Darwisch, 2014). The difficulty in establishing a countrywide system to educate teachers in IRE goes back to the strongly decentralised regulation of education in Germany and the differing organisational structure of Islamic religious communities (as compared to those of Christian churches) which, among other things, challenge their official recognition as religious communities (Lange, 2014).

A second weakness concerns teaching materials, which are not yet firmly established and fully developed. In addition, the diversity of Islamic denominations as well as the selection and presentation of sources and the heterogeneity of teaching models pose challenges for the production of a uniform set of materials (Kiefer, 2010). Nevertheless, there are a few approved textbooks which have been audited both by the state and by Islamic religious organisations. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the content of textbooks is determined by the advisory board for IRE. The only approved textbook in elementary schools was published in 2017 by Ermert et al. (El-Shabassy, 2019). This textbook and the one by Ucar and Erkan (2009) are used and approved in several other German states beyond North Rhine-Westphalia.

Improving Islamic Religious Education in

Germany: Recent Trends and Initiatives

In 2006, the German government established a new forum of exchange: the so-called German Islam Conference (DIK), which brings together representatives of the German government (mainly the minister of interior) and different Islamic religious communities. Because there are many of these communities, the so-called Coordination Council for Muslims (Koordinationsrat der Muslime, KRM), which unites the four largest Islamic organisations in Germany, was created in 2007. At the national level, unfortunately, the KRM was unable to greatly improve communication and cooperation between Muslims and the German government because many Islamic associations still prefer to act independently (Rosenow and Kortmann, 2011).

At the regional state level, however, the dialogue between state authorities and Islamic religious communities seems to have been more successful, as smaller forums with a limited number of actors have been established. For example, the state governments in Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and Rhineland-Palatinate set up so-called round tables.

In sum, there is a growing number of diverse initiatives in Germany, at both the national and state levels, to foster dialogue and exchange between political entities and Islamic religious organisations and to professionalise the provision of IRE.

A second trend in Germany is the increasing demand for interconfessional and interfaith teaching. Some federal states, including Hamburg and Bremen, already offer dialogical interfaith RE, for which the curriculum is developed in dialogue with representatives of different religions, including Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews. Comparable attempts have been made in Baden-Württemberg (where Protestant and Catholic pupils are regularly taught together, alternately by Protestant and Catholic teachers, cf. Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg, 2019) and in Lower Saxony (Bistum Osnabrück, 2019). Kenngott and Knauth (2015, 9) argue that these interfaith forms of RE might become an important trend in Germany. We believe, however, that due to the enormous legal obstacles as well as the strong opposition of some regional Christian churches, no complete shift away from confessional to nonconfessional education can be expected in Germany in the near future.

Islamic Religious Education in German State Schools:

The Current Situation and Future Prospects

Today, a variety of different models and school trials characterise IRE in Germany (Kiefer, 2011). Since many school trials are about to expire, the coming years will be crucial for the development of IRE in Germany. Given the positive evaluations of the model projects (Holzberger, 2014; Uslucan and Yalcin, 2018) as well as the increasing number of participants, the future prospects for IRE appear to be quite promising (KMK, 2016, 2019). The main challenge in establishing IRE as a regular subject in German schools is the recognition of Islamic organisations as legal public corporations, which so far is a matter of fact only in Hesse, Hamburg, and Bremen. Recently, German law has lowered the legal hurdles for such recognition (SVR, 2016), but long-established norms and values in state administrations favouring Christian belief systems still seem to challenge the recognition of Islamic religious organisations (cf. Euchner, 2018).

In addition, political scandals and recent provocations by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan have further decreased trust in the DITIB, which was considered the representative organ of Turkish Muslims in Germany and hence a potential partner in organising IRE in different federal states. Due to this loss of trust, so-called advisory board models - such as in North Rhine-Westphalia - or treaties with Islamic associations - such as in Hamburg - currently serve as transitional solutions (SVR, 2016). However, the recognition of some representative organs of the Islamic community would certainly provide the smoothest way of fully professionalising and establishing IRE across Germany, which is supported by almost all major political parties (Triadafilopoulos and Rahmann, 2016). Since the issue is being addressed with openness by both state and society, the prospects are positive for the establishment of IRE, which should have a place in the classrooms of state schools and should support the prevention of radicalisation (Triadafilopoulos and Rahmann, 2016, 153). However, in order to come to a uniform and professional establishment of IRE in Germany, inter-organisational reform processes within the Islamic religious community need to be promoted, and some archaic legal and cultural hurdles in state administration need to be abolished.


  • 1. The status of a “public legal corporation” (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechtes) grants additional privileges for "religious communities" but is, according to recent case law, no mandatory prerequisite for RE. The official recognition as religious community suffices (Wall, 2008).
  • 2. "Natürliche Person” is a specific term in German law which refers to a single citizen having rights and duties specified in the German Civil Code, while "juristische Person" generally encompasses associations or corporations, such as groups of citizens being organised already.
  • 3. Article 141 of the Basic Law prevents the establishment of a state church but upholds the principles of neutrality and positive tolerance towards every religious community, as well as the equal treatment of all worldviews. Additionally, Article 4 of the Basic Law grants religious freedom to everyone.
  • 4. The census, which is undertaken by the Federal Statistical Office and the statistical regional offices every ten years, collects basic data on the German population, which form the basis for political planning: to calculate the distribution of tax revenue, for example (Bundesministerium des Innern, für Bau und Heimat, 2019).
  • 5. The differentiation between old and new German states refers to the time of the German partition. The old or West German states describe the ten federal states that belonged to West Germany, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria. Berlin-West, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, and Schleswig-Holstein. Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia are referred to as the new federal states, which emerged from former districts of the the German Democratic Republic after the German reunification.
  • 6. The following is mainly based on the work of Hackner (2019).
  • 7. "Other forms of RE” include Jewish RE, Orthodox RE, comprehensive RE, and other substitute lessons.
  • 8. The data for North Rhine-Westphalia only show participants in IRE and not for the additional offer of Education about Islam at some schools. Education about Islam in North Rhine-Westphalia was attended by 5,304 pupils in 2015-16 and by 7,135 pupils in 2017-18.
  • 9. Unfortunately, the availale information on this topic is rather limited, due to the variety of approaches among the German states but also due to the novelty of IRE as a regular subject.


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