But although church membership has rapidly declined over the last two decades and although about half of the population wants to curb the influence exercised by the churches, a change to the constitutionally enshrined status of the churches in Germany is not on the cards. In Stuttgart, politicians from all across the political spectrum will cosy up to priests and lay activists, maintaining the neo-corporatist illusion that this constitutes a dialogue between politics and society. Meanwhile, the only institution that is deemed as similarly untrustworthy as the Catholic church is the party system.
While Stutgart is gearing up for the “Kirchentag”, a gathering of 100,000 Protestant laypeople, a poll by Infratest shows that only 41 per cent of the German population have at least “some” trust in what was once the state church in large parts of the country. And that is still not too bad, compared to the Catholic church, in which roughly one in five Germans puts “some” trust, while about one third of the population has “no trust whatsoever” in this outfit.