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What do you believe?

Christian, Moslem, Jew – or atheist? In Germany, people are free to believe whatever they choose. We talked to young people about their religion.

For Dalia Grinfeld, faith is part of her identity.
For Dalia Grinfeld, faith is part of her identity. © privat

“The state must guarantee freedom of religion for all people”

Dalia Grinfeld, 23, did a degree in political science and Jewish studies and is president of the Jewish Student Union of Germany (JSUD)

“The Jewish religion and Jewish traditions have been a kind of leitmotif throughout my life. They give me the chance to perceive and judge ethical and moral issues in a different way. The Jewish culture of debate has also influenced me considerably. The state must guarantee freedom of religion for all people. In my view this works pretty well. However, I have friends who are studying medicine and have been waiting for a year and a half for an exam date because all the dates fall on Jewish holidays. The state has a duty to offer alternatives in this situation.”

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“Openly express what we stand for”

Jana Highholder, 20, is studying medicine at the University of Münster and is a YouTube ambassador for the Protestant Church in Germany

“For any relationship to work, you must talk openly with your partner about what is on your mind. This is also true of my relationship with God. This conversation with God is something that has accompanied me throughout my life. I am part of the young generation for whom using social media networks is a matter of course. Even there I have never denied what I believe in and what I stand for. I want to encourage other young Christians to leave their comfort zones and openly express what we stand for.  The Bible preaches love and community. This must also be evident in the way a Christian acts.”

Jana Highholder
Jana Highholder © GEP/Lea Feicks

“One has already failed if one does not pursue any dialogue”

Mulla Cetin, 23, is studying law at the University of Potsdam and is on the federal board of the Youth Islam Conference

“For me, being a Moslem is part of my identity and life philosophy. My faith teaches me to appreciate even those things in life that we take for granted, to be humble and to treat everyone with respect. However, Moslems are often discussed only in negative contexts – in chat shows for example. People talk about instances of failure, but not about how Moslems enrich life in Germany and Europe. I therefore see my commitment to combating hatred and prejudice as my civic and moral duty. Honest discourse on religion is essential for peaceful coexistence. It’s true that a dialogue can fail – but one has already failed if one does not pursue any dialogue.”

Mulla Cetin
Mulla Cetin © privat

“I do not feel as if I am missing out on anything”

Thomas Zeiske, 30, did a degree in business informatics and works as an IT project manager in Berlin

“I come from a family in which religion has not played any role for generations. I wasn’t baptised, I am not a member of any church, and have only attended a church service once. I am someone who believes in facts and who views the world from a scientific perspective. Nonetheless, I am happy to talk to friends about why religion is important to them. I think that everyone in Germany is pretty much free to live the kind of life that they want to.”

Thomas Zeiske
Thomas Zeiske © Claudia Keller