Young refugees are generally very religious. This became clear during a pilot study run by FAU in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories in Bamberg. Prof. Dr. Manfred Pirner, who specialises in religious education, surveyed 45 young Muslims, orthodox Christians and Yazidis from Nuremberg, Leipzig and Berlin. However, all those involved in the study stated that their faith has changed during their time in Germany. Of those questioned, nineteen stated that their faith has become stronger, while seven felt that it has become weaker. The other young people also noticed a difference in their faith.
However, the majority of the young migrants find it hard to imagine that people can have no religious beliefs at all. That said, after spending some time in Germany, however, 25 of them have found friends who are not religious, indicating that they are going through a learning process, as does the fact that before arriving in Germany, 20 of those questioned knew very little about other religions.
The young refugees were between 13 and 24 years old and had been in Germany for between 11 and 45 months at the time of the survey. Most of them were originally from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. ‘Our pilot study has now given us an initial insight into the significance of religiosity for young migrants,’ according to Manfred Pirner. ‘However, it is already clear that religion has a very positive potential for helping young people integrate and cope with settling in to life in a new country. This is quite different from public discussion, where refugees’ religion is generally seen as a stumbling block.’
From autumn 2021, the FAU researchers hope to follow on from these initial results with a longitudinal survey funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project ‘Religion as Resource and Risk. An empirical-longitudinal study on the significance of religiosity for the coping with life and integration of young refugees (ReReRi-L) in collaboration with the University of Siegen is aimed at helping to provide young migrants or refugees improved support by offering educational programmes tailored to their needs.