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Historical survey

A change of religious identity

For many long centuries, Austria was, up until the beginning of modern times, a Christian, Catholic country. Other religions, with the exception of Judaism, were scarcely represented on territory (...)

For many long centuries, Austria was, up until the beginning of modern times, a Christian, Catholic country. Other religions, with the exception of Judaism, were scarcely represented on territory of modern-day Austria. Those who were present were met with an extremely turbulent fate of both persecution and tolerance.
It was only in the 16th century, following the Reformation, that this Christian homogeneity changed. At the turning point of the 16th and 17th century, considerable parts of what is now called Austria became predominately Protestant. During the time of the Habsburg’s Counter-Reformation Austria returned to Catholicism at the end of the Thirty Years War. During the reign of Emperor Joseph II Catholicism was considered the dominant religion. Lutheran and Reformed Protestants as well as Orthodox Christians were tolerated; this was also the case for the Jewish population.

6 July 2012

Towards religious tolerance

The idea of tolerance and equal rights only really began to emerge in 1848 and was materialised in the Basic Law of the State on the General Rights of Citizens of 21 December 1867. This Basic Law (...)

The idea of tolerance and equal rights only really began to emerge in 1848 and was materialised in the Basic Law of the State on the General Rights of Citizens of 21 December 1867. This Basic Law of the State included, in particular, a provision granting specific fundamental rights to each Church or Religious Society recognised by the law. However, it was only in the 1874 Law on Recognition of Churches that the manner in which such “legal recognition” could be obtained was detailed. The first regulation under the terms of the 1874 Law on Recognition of Churches was adopted in 1877 for the Old Catholic Church.
The regime of Religious or Jewish Consistory Communities was established before 1890 on very diverse legal foundations that were stripped of the heterogeneity by a uniform regulation applicable to the whole of Austrian in the Law on Jews of 1890.

6 July 2012

The presence of Islam

As a result of the occupation and annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, more and more followers of Islam settled on the territory of modern-day Austria, so much so that this religious association was (...)

As a result of the occupation and annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, more and more followers of Islam settled on the territory of modern-day Austria, so much so that this religious association was recognised in 1912. During the last decades of the 20th century, the number of Muslims greatly increased due to the influx of migrant workers from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey.

20 July 2012

Current religious diversity

During the 20th century, a large number of people belonging to the most diverse religious groups came to Austria and made every effort to have their religious associations recognised publicly. (...)

During the 20th century, a large number of people belonging to the most diverse religious groups came to Austria and made every effort to have their religious associations recognised publicly. They were granted this recognition according to the provisions laid down in the Law on Recognition of Churches of 1874. Today Austria has 13 legally recognised religions and religious associations.

20 July 2012