Megachurches are only companies

The church as a companyBusiness establishments with a religious label

So they call to worship, to confirmation, to baptism. That's how you know the church. But noises like this also belong to church: (chainsaw).

Because the churches are forest owners and landowners. Both churches come together on 830.00 hectares in Germany. You are Germany's largest landowner. In addition to the church buildings, they own a further 87,000 properties. The church-critical political scientist and author Carsten Frerk said on Deutschlandfunk about the churches:

"For me, the churches in Germany are specifically commercial enterprises with a religious label."

The economic size has historical reasons

They are also great employers. The Catholic Caritas employs more than 600,000 full-time employees. This makes it, after the state, the largest employer in Germany, of course, followed by its Protestant counterpart, the Diakonie. A good 460,000 people are permanently employed there. In addition, there are a total of 1.2 million volunteers in both organizations. Its economic size has historical reasons, but not only, knows the economist Dominik Enste, who heads the competence field business ethics at the Institute of German Economy:

"It certainly plays a role that the churches are simply very old institutions that have been able to assert themselves into modern times, but it also has a lot to do with special legal regulations. That means: These peculiarities with charitable law and other things exist in others Not so in European countries. And based on this strong position, the third sector and especially the churches have been able to assert themselves in this area, especially since competition has only slowly found its way, especially in the area of ​​care. "

At Diakonie, 28 percent of the full-time employees work in the elderly, at Catholic Caritas it is at least 20 percent. This has given the churches an almost dominant position in the demand for incontinence products, for example. But it is being attacked. There is a lot of private competition in care for the elderly from France in particular.

When a company went bankrupt, ethics and business were in conflict

Employees in the churches have their own labor law. This often leads to dismissal, especially in the Catholic area, for divorced and remarried people. Even with a major bankruptcy, ethics and business were in conflict. The erotic offers of the bookseller "Weltbild" did not suit some bishops. Financing the company became difficult. Michael Bretz from the Creditreform credit agency therefore had to report in the 2014 bankruptcy statistics:

"The publishing group Weltbild from Augsburg, in church hands, has filed for bankruptcy. It was simply an enormous need for restructuring. And after all, almost 7,000 employees have their jobs there."

Other owners continue it in parts. In addition to hospitals, hospices, youth and old people's homes, the churches also have banks, insurance companies, breweries and wineries, holdings in television production companies, news agencies and radio stations. The author Carsten Frerk compares the overall business with that of a German model industry:

"And this whole area of ​​the economy in the area of ​​the churches as a flow of money is 129 billion euros per year. The German automotive industry has a total domestic turnover - a comparable size - of 127 billion."

Dominik Enste from the IW, however, sees one area as at least expandable: the daycare centers.

"It is a business model that the churches are still neglecting too much. Because on the one hand they can ensure that people can more easily combine family and work. On the other hand, the churches could ensure that they themselves still have offspring . "

Daycare centers, especially for those who have not been baptized, could open up access to faith and religion.