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This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2009) The situation of Christianity in East Germany was characterized by an enduring persecution of religious believers by the Communist authorities in charge of the East German State. Contents 1 Parishes cut off from dioceses 2 Traditionally Protestant areas 3 Minority of Catholics 4 Faithful seen as threat to the atheistic regime 5 Political motives for persecution 6 References Parishes cut off from dioceses After World War II, the Catholics in the zone occupied by the Soviet army found themselves under a militantly atheist government. Many parishes were cut off from their dioceses in the western part of Germany. The Soviet zone eventually declared itself a sovereign nation, the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The GDR's constitution proclaimed the freedom of religious belief, but in reality the new state tried to abolish religion. Traditionally Protestant areas Most of the people in the territory of the German Democratic Republic were Protestants. With exception of the Eichsfeld, a small Catholic area in the northwestern part of Thuringia, which was a former property of the archdiocese of Mainz, Catholics were a small minority right from the start of Communist rule. In contrast to the Protestant churches, the Catholic Church endured the Communist order relatively unscathed. Minority of Catholics In 1950, 13% of the population were Catholics (versus 85% Protestants). Although about 1.1 million citizens, half of East Germany's Catholic population, left the GDR, in 1989 there were still about one million Catholics, about 6% of the population (versus 25% Protestants).[1] Faithful seen as threat to the atheistic regime The circumstance of being a tiny minority proved to be a substantial advantage. In the government's view, the population of Protestants was high enough to potentially endanger the atheistic state if it were to mobilize itself. Therefore, the system's main efforts to fight religion concentrated on Protestantism. As a result, the majority of atheists and agnostics registered in Germany today (29.6% in religion in Germany) are in the former East Germany. Political motives for persecution The Protestant churches drew strong repression for a historical reason as well. The Protestant churches had had strong connections to most of the former political states (empires, etc.) that had over the centuries ruled one or another part of the territory of the GDR, while the Catholic Church had kept its distance from them (and they had kept their distance from the Catholic Church, as seen during the kulturkampf). The Catholic Church was thus used to existing without the help and even against the hostility of the state. References ^ Dr. Bernd Schäfer, Kirchenpolitik und Säkularisierung in Ost und West This Christianity-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.v · d · e