"Live and let live“ – that is THE short formula for the Bavarian attitude on life. Openness and tolerance guarantee that people of the widest variety of ethnicities and religions live together in peace in Bavaria.

For some people, religion determines their identity and represents the foundation for how they structure their life. For others, it does not. The basic right to freedom of religion, unconditionally guaranteed all over Germany (Article 4 Basic Law, Article 107 Bavarian Constitution), ensures that everyone can pursue happiness as he or she sees fit. Everyone has the right to profess a religion, to change confessions, or to not profess any religion expressly (negative religious freedom).

St Bartholomew’s Chapel on the western bank of Lake Königsee on the Hirschau peninsula is one of the most photographed motifs in Bavaria.
St Bartholomew’s, Pilgrimage Chapel on the western bank of Lake Königsee on the Hirschau peninsula (consecrated 1868, parts dating back to the 12th Century) can only be reached via high altitude trails, or over the water and is one of the most photographed motifs in Bavaria. © fotolia.com/AndreasEdelmann

The state is obligated to remain ideologically neutral. It is not, however, neutral with regard to values. For, as formulated by Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, "a free social order requires a kind of community spirit' among those living in that state." And he asks: "From where does this ethos originate, which is neither coerced by the state nor can be enforced from above?" Thus, in Germany and Bavaria, the state is religion-friendly and shows it with a positive neutrality, in which religions can be consciously integrated into public life. Responsibility before God and respect for human dignity are core elements in the preambles of the German Basic Law as well as the Bavarian Constitution.

Some newcomers are surprised that the Christian roots reach all the way into everyday sayings: from the greetings "Grias di" and Grüß Gott" (God greet you), to the parting farewell "Pfiat di (Gott)" (God guide you) and saying thank you with "Vergelt's Gott!" (God reward you). None of this is obligatory. In an environment of tolerance, they stand side by side in peace: Religions from all over the world and the centuries-old testimonials to Christianity, like churches and statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints, crosses on mountain peaks and along trails.

Religious confession, proof of religious freedom or tolerance yardstick. Everyone interprets it as he or she likes: "Live and let live"

Facts and figures

Population of Bavaria, as of 31/12/2011:
12,595,891 residents

Main religions

 

  as % of the population

Catholics:

6,818,610

  54.4

Protestant Christians:

2,558,043

  20.4

Muslims:

  528,000

    4.2

Jews:

       7,102

0.06