Only 38 per cent of German Lutherans believe 'Jesus is their saviour', according to a study undertaken for the German evangelical news agency Idea.
According to the Evangelical Focus news service, the poll asked both unbelievers and believers from different traditions about their views of Jesus. Around 40 per cent of all Germans believe 'Jesus is the Son of God', with 70 per cent of free evangelical churchgoers responding in the affirmative; 56 per cent of Roman Catholics said they believed it. Among Lutherans, the figure was 54 per cent.
Among those who do not subscribe to any faith, 45 per cent said Jesus was God's Son.
The question about whether 'Jesus is our Saviour' elicited the most surprising responses, however. Lutherans and Roman Catholics both produced the same proportion answering in the affirmative, at only 38 per cent, while only 60 per cent of free evangelical churchgoers affirmed it.
The study also shows the effect of decades of atheist propaganda in the east of the country. Before reunification, East Germany was a communist state and it has been described as "the most godless place on earth". According to the Idea survey, while most than half of those in the west of the country – 52 per cent – believe Jesus was a real person, only 36 per cent in the east believe he was real.
It also found that 43 per cent of those who vote for the ruling Christian Democrats identify as Christians while the anti-immigration and right-wing AfD party has only 23 per cent Christians.