What does personal belief mean

Praying briefly every evening before going to sleep, only stopping by the church at Christmas, believing in rebirth - that's faith today. Or completely different. And that's great! Gone are the days when parents dictated whom to worship. Young people today can no longer be forced to confirm or confirm, they question the authorities and believe what they want. And they mix what makes the most sense to them from different religions. For example, the matter of rebirth - that is not part of Christianity at all, but comes from Buddhism.

Clear change in the relationship to religions

“Young people are very demanding of religious self-determination. You want to be able to question things and think very pragmatically: What is good for me? They just want to believe what they themselves find plausible, ”says religious scholar Verena Maske from the University of Marburg. Her research has shown that although there is no loss of values, there is still a clear change in the relationship to religions. “There used to be clear authorities and institutions that weren't called into question. Religion was a kind of roof that covered all of society. Today it is just one of the many senses offered. You can fall back on them, but you don't have to, ”explains Verena Maske. 16-year-old Julian describes it this way: “Like many of my friends, I believe in God. But we all don't expect enlightenment. ”This relaxed attitude towards faith is quite normal today. Everything is possible, nothing is neccesary. And nobody needs to categorically exclude anything.

Verena Maske is convinced that we can be enthusiastic about faith, religion and spirituality - but also deliberately deal with doubts. But what is definitely not in demand: let something be prescribed. Whether from parents, teachers or an institution.

Multicultural climate in schools

Those who are 17 today are lucky enough not only to be confronted with the Catholic and Protestant faith. In many schools there is an open, multicultural climate: Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews and atheists sit in a classroom, have the same thoughts and doubts. And so it happens that you pick good approaches from another religion and adopt them for yourself. For this we should thank the many migrants who brought their faith with them to Germany - and who show us today that you can not only choose between Catholic and Protestant. Like 18-year-old Jasmin, who thinks it's great to share the schoolyard with different nations and religions. For them it is a gift to think outside the box and to remain “open minded”.

No matter what religion you belong to, how strongly you believe or how often you change your mind: The main thing is that faith makes life stronger and more beautiful. And if, like 17-year-old Tabea, it is simply a higher power that she believes in. After all, it doesn't always have to be God - belief in freestyle is quite normal these days.


Julian, 16 years, 11th grade, is involved in the Catholic Church as an altar boy

You are a believing Christian, a member of a church. What exactly are you doing there

As an altar boy, I assist in the church service every Sunday. This is an important constant in my weekly schedule. And otherwise I often go to the youth club, see my friends there, we are a real clique. After the service we play football, hang out in the parish.

Do you then also talk a lot about God and your faith?

Sometimes yes, but then more with our pastor. Most of the time, we're just normal teenagers and having fun. We all don't expect enlightenment. With us it's not as strict as in other communities. Our pastor is easy going, jokes with us. And if we ever have doubts about faith, we can come to him too.

What does your faith give you?

A lot of strength. When I get up in the morning I know the day can't go wrong because God is with me. That sounds kind of weird, but that's what it feels like. And when I'm not doing so well, I find refuge with him. When my grandpa died, I felt very bad. Since then I have prayed before going to sleep every night - nothing bad has happened in my life since then.

How could one get more young people excited about the faith?

I can understand young people who have no desire for church and faith because the pastor is boring. Many are older and fail to get modern messages across. I'm just very lucky with my pastor. If the Catholic Church were to abolish celibacy, there would also be more young priests - and thus more teenagers who are involved in the church.


Tabea, 17 years, 12th grade, quarrels with her faith

How did you come to doubt your belief?

We discussed a lot in religious education, for example about conscience. Then it came out that in the evangelical church it is considered bad if one tries to be like God. I wasn't aware of that before. Since then I think that religions were primarily created to give people a feeling of security and stability in life.

Before your doubts, were you involved in the Church?

Yes, really intense. Shortly before my confirmation, I was voluntarily baptized as a Protestant. That was my decision alone, my parents stayed out of it. I found it really nice to be part of a community. So much so that I got involved as a group leader, I even attended confirmation camps. In the meantime I have withdrawn step by step - I am increasingly critical of the church.

What exactly is it that bothers you about the church?

That she often abuses her power, as you can now see with the Limburg bishop. What I also don't like are the many wars that have been fought in the name of God - like the Crusades.

What do you believe in today

Not directly to God, rather to a higher force. It can't all have happened by chance. The human body alone is so complex that I cannot imagine that it is just a coincidental product of evolution.


Jasmin, 18 years, 12th grade, is a Muslim, takes it easy with the faith

How do you describe your relationship to religion?

I am a believer, but in my own special way. More like "freestyle" and very relaxed. I grew up between two cultures. My mother is from Tunisia, my father is German. For them he converted to the Muslim faith. We talk about everything at home and have a close bond with one another. My parents trust me and give me a lot of freedom. In a strict family I would feel oppressed.

Which rules of your religion have you adopted for yourself?

I believe from my own conviction and only do what I think is good. For example, I only drink a little alcohol, this rule also makes sense. I don't eat pork or smoke either. As for boys and leaving, my mother and I interpret everything a little more modern. I'm really happy about your point of view.

Do you talk to your friends about religion?

There are moments when we exchange ideas. But in everyday life I don't think about whether there is a god or sins. I am happy that I go to a multicultural school, where I have influences from all over the world: from Vietnamese, Chinese, Yugoslavs, Turks with and without headscarves. Everyone interprets religion differently. A schoolmate is from Afghanistan, she fasts and wears a headscarf. Then there is a Turkish woman who sometimes eats pork and still calls herself a Muslim. It's exciting to see all these differences and different interpretations.