No Signs of a Turnaround
The case of East Germany raises the question of why religion and church, which had fallen to an unprecedentedly low level after four decades of suppression, have not recovered since 1989. The repressive church politics of the SED were undoubtedly the decisive factor in the unique process of minoritizing churches in the GDR. However, other external factors such as increasing prosperity, socio-structural transformation, and the expansion of the leisure and entertainment sector played an important role, too. In addition, church activity itself probably also helped to weaken the social position of churches. The absence of a church renaissance after 1990 can be explained by several factors, such as the long-term effects of the break with tradition caused by the GDR system, the political and moral discrediting of the church by the state security service, and people’s dwindling confidence in the church, which was suddenly seen as a non-representative Western institution.
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