According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, religion and democracy are not opposites. But it is problematic that there is a widespread aversion to Islam.
The vast majority of 89 percent of the population – across all religions – considers democracy in Germany a good form of government. This has resulted in a study published by the Bertelsmann Foundation based on the representative “Religion Monitor.” With religious tolerance, however, the study sees deficits. Especially, Islam has a hard time and is perceived negatively by many.
Immigration and globalization have increased religious diversity in Germany. Neither this plurality nor the degree of religiosity, according to the analysis, influence attitudes toward democracy. “Members of whatever religion can be good democrats,” said study author and religious sociologist Gert Pickel.
Half the population feels Islam is a threat
On the other hand, dogmatic, rigid beliefs and intolerance towards other religions are permanently detrimental to democracy. Here, the investigation gives cause for concern, because half of the interviewees feel Islam is a threat. In East Germany, where few Muslims live, the reservations are stronger than in the West. According to the survey, 30 percent in the East and 16 percent in the West do not want Muslims as neighbors.
Such demarcated, negative attitudes could jeopardize democratic political culture, warned Pickel. Nationwide, the number of Muslims is estimated at around five million, with 1.5 million of all federal states living in North Rhine-Westphalia.
3 percent are Islamophobic
However, the widespread Islam skepticism is not necessarily synonymous with Islamophobia, said foundation expert Yasemin El-Menouar in Gütersloh. However, this was definitely present in 13 percent of the population who wanted to stop the immigration of Muslims.
However, according to the study, democratic culture basically proves to be a stable foundation supported by the broad majority: among Christians, 93 percent, among Muslims 91 percent, among non-religious 83 percent, support democracy.