After the Middle Ages, the area of Göttingen was part of the archbishopric of Mainz, and most of the population were Roman Catholic. Starting in 1528, the teachings of church reformer Martin Luther became more and more popular in the city. In 1529 the first Protestant sermon was preached in the Paulinerkirche, a former Dominican monastery church. For many centuries, nearly all the people in the city were Lutherans. As of today, the area of Göttingen is part of the Protestant Lutheran state church of Hanover. Apart from the Lutherans, there are several other Protestant churches in Göttingen, known as Freikirchen. (Free churches). In 1746, Catholic services in Göttingen were resumed, at first only for the students of the new university, but a year later for all citizens who wished to attend. However, it was not until 1787 that the first Catholic church since the Reformation, St. Michael's, was built. In 1929 a second Catholic church, St. Paul's, was erected. Today, the major religions are Lutheran and Catholicism. In addition, there has been a Baptist congregation since 1894, a Mennonite congregation since 1946, as well as a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There is a documented Jewish community dating back to the 16th century. During the Third Reich, the synagogue was destroyed in the Reichsprogromnacht on 9 November 1938, as were many others throughout Germany. The Jewish community was persecuted, and many of its members met their deaths in the concentration camps. In recent years, the Jewish community has again been flourishing, with the immigration of Jewish people from the states of the former Soviet Union. In 2004, the first Shabbat could be celebrated in the new Jewish community centre. Finally, there are many Islamic congregations. Islam gained a foothold in Göttingen, as it did in other German cities, with the immigration of the Turks during the Wirtschaftswunder in the 1960s and 1970s. They constitute the majority of Muslims in Göttingen. Other Muslims are of Arab origin or come from Pakistan, Iran and India. There are two mosques in the city.
There is a secular trend in Germany, especially in Eastern Germany, but also in the West, where a growing number of people are not baptised or leave the church. This trend was especially noticeable in the last decade of the last century. Nowadays, however, the situation in the larger churches has stabilised.
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