The Protestant vs Catholic issues in English speaking areas are well known. Is there any similar rivalry/snobbery/conflict in (modern day) Germany? I don’t know much about the details of German culture, but it does have that Protestant/Catholic mix as well.
Can’t tell about now, but back in '92 I worked with a group of Germans that seemed to be fond of seeking excuses to hate anybody; one of the things they hated, being Protestants, was Catholics. But I believe that it was more a matter of “haters gotta hate” than one of society-wide conflict, more xenophobia in the widest possible sense of the word than a specifically-religious issue. My nice German coworkers have never mentioned anything like that, but then, the nice ones also haven’t claimed that women can’t teach (bonus points when the person saying this is a female PhD student) or expected foreigners to learn perfect German within five minutes of arrival.
I can’t recall seeing anything in the news about conflicts between Protestants and Catholics.
Not really. German churches are big on ecumenism. Also, most of the protestants are Lutheran or Calvinist and not the homebrew variety that exists in the US.
No interdenomical conflict to speak of. Both churches see religious apathy as the main threat (almost every German knows excactly the services in which church he/she does not attend, of a Sunday morning we listen all to the comforting, familiar sound of our church’s bells at breakfast or still in bed and think: but for the grace of God I’d have to get up earlier.)
The only frequent interndenominational criticism I hear in the media is the call of the Protestant laity to the Catholic hierarchy to stop being stuffy and have all Christian churches enter into communion wrt the Eucharist.
It wasn’t ever so; I am minded to date the main change to the end of WW II when every region in rump Germany became more diverse by the influx of refugees.
One thing that foreigners seem to get wrong about the name of the main center-right German party, the Christian Democratic Union (founded in 1945): the name wasn’t meant to be exclusive (Christian vs. non-), but inclusive (Catholic + Protestant, including Catholic + Protestant nonbelievers); the idea being to have one nondenominational center-right party rather than separate Protestant and Catholic ones as in the Weimar Republic.
One thing that’s remarkable and which I suspect may have contributed to Nava’s experience: among Germans tribal origin and (as it closely mirrors that) denomination is a main topic of workplace/circle-of-friends ribbing: You believe that line management fed us? Well of course you are Catholic; you’ll have to believe what you are told or Could you give me a walkthrough of the code you wrote during Carnival? As a Rhinelander you’d have been under the influence or They are Bavarians. We’ll have to use simple words.. Another example: I (being a Hamburger by birth) am still affectionately called a fishhead after two decades in South West Germany. This ribbing on the themes of talking funny and having strange customs is considered a safe topic because it’s not personal - denomination and tribe being an accident of birth rather than a matter of choice.
Not at all. This is basically a thing from the past. But as late as the 1950s, confessional differences played an important role. Back then, for instance, when a government was formed on the federal or state level, observers would pay close attention to the religious affiliation of a prospective minister and there had to be a balance. But again, that’s not the case any more. The fact that the main center-right party in Germany is called the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is somewhat misleading (there are historical reasons).
These days, the mainstream Christian denominations in Germany are by in large fairly liberal and secular, especially the Protestants. Super-liberal Protestants routinely criticize the Catholic church for their perceived conservatism; that’s the closest you will get to Protestant vs. Catholic friction in Germany.
I’m not German; but from what I’ve heard – or think I have – about these matters, I gather that very broadly, the divide tends to run on geographical lines: the more northerly parts of Germany mostly Protestant, and the more southerly parts mostly Catholic (with many exceptions and anomalies).
I recall being told in Germany long ago, about Paderborn – a rather grim city in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, and never any kind of jewel in Germany’s tourist crown. My informant said that Paderborn was a strong and fervent enclave of one kind of Christianity, within an area which was solidly the other kind – I can’t remember whether the city was Catholic and the surrounding area Protestant, or vice versa. This situation, I was told, created a degree of tension and mutual dislike in that region (fairly low-key – nobody actually killed anyone else over it).
That’s pretty much universal, but I think I know the difference between ribbing and hate. Those haters-gotta-hate folks were fucked up badly and in many ways. Purposefully destroying the work of someone who isn’t even in the same rat-race as you (being a visitor), pulling your hand back when you find out the new person is from the wrong place, or yelling at your doctoral advisor “you made me work with a WOMAN!” isn’t ribbing. But like I said, IME those crazies were outliers.
I, as a German, did not know that!
It has been ages since I lived in Germany, but in the 14 years I lived there I almost never heard anyone ever talk about religion at all. The only time anyone I knew went to church was for a wedding or funeral. Then again, I spent most of my time in Berlin so maybe it is different in smaller villages or in the more conservative southern areas of Germany.
I do know that Germans found the idea of mixing up politics and religion like we do in the US sort of strange and they would often ask me why. I never had a very good answer.
Really? Outside of Ireland? :dubious:
Scotland too and Orangeism was popular enough until recently in parts of Canada.
Thanks for the replies…
Sure, it can be a fairly sensitive topic in parts of the UK, Canada (Quebec) and the Northeast U.S. (where people can still have weird hangups about “WASPs”). In a mixed Protestant/Catholic relationship, one may be surprised about the emotions that come out of the woodwork.
(ETA: what An Gadaí said too)
In Newfoundland (Canada), too. I married into a Newfoundland Protestant family. I’m a New York Catholic.
I was absolutely astounded to hear the things my wife (and her mother) believe and say about Catholics. Really. The kind of stuff that hasn’t been heard since the 1950s in the United States. And to see copies of Paul Blanshard’s American Freedom and Catholic Power still on bookshelves, still read, and still believed.
I’m aware, cerebrally, that this kind of thing still obtains in the English-speaking world, in 2014 – though gut-wise, it amazes me a bit. Tell me, if appropriate, to mind my own business; but I can’t refrain from wondering whether for your wife, marrying a Catholic was a difficult decision, attended with much agonising?
I wasn’t even aware that it still existed in the English-speaking word, with the possible exception of Northern Ireland and (to a much lesser extent) parts of the American deep south.
No, she really didn’t agonize over it. We were (and are) quite sure that we wanted to be married to each other.
She’s not even particularly religious. She likes to attend church when we visit her family back home (and I happily go with her), but that’s more for the feeling of being connected to her community than any actual religious fervor. She’s a deist at best. I, on the other hand, am a believing Catholic.
Nonetheless, she is extremely hostile to Catholicism, as is her mother, and as are others in her community. I’ve heard, far too often, things like “Catholics don’t think for themselves, they just wait for the priest to tell them what to do,” and “you actually believe that?” (regarding the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence). Mostly I hear that from her mother. My wife tends to dress up her old-fashioned anti-Catholicism in modern terms, claiming that it’s mostly because the Catholic Church denigrates women (by not ordaining them, and I do think it’s time the Church changed its position on that issue), but in reality her hostility is deeper, and inherited. She can become quite angry if I go to Mass, even when I go on my own time (i.e., when she’s out of town on business or something).
Her church (United Church of Canada) prides itself on its tolerance and openness, but it’s that kind of tolerance that says “your faith is wrong and bad and evil and primitive, and you should abandon it right away, but we would welcome you as a convert.” I guess that’s a kind of tolerance.
I wasn’t aware of how hostile she (and some of her family and community) is towards Catholicism before we married. It wasn’t exactly disclosed. I still want to be married to her, but this is a strange thing to deal with.