Record number of cult organisations flock to Berlin to convert "godless" locals

Record number of cult organisations flock to Berlin to convert "godless" locals

According to Berlin’s Sekteninfo, a state-run platform that offers to counsel cult escapees, fundamentalist organisations are doubling down on recruitment in the capital.

Increasing religious cult presence in Berlin

In 2022 Berlin’s Sekteninfo platform, which offers guidance to people who have left or been in contact with cults operating in the city, received the highest number of requests since its inception seven years ago. In 2022 the organisation responded to 643 contacts, 100 more than in the previous year.

According to Karol Küenzlen-Zielinski, who works at the organisation, the number of help requests related to the Church of Scientology has decreased in comparison to the previous year, when ties to the one organisation dominated appeals.

Instead, more and more service users are reporting involvement with evangelical Christian bodies, extortionately expensive life-coaching services and esoteric organisations.

Which cult organisations are growing in Berlin?

A far cry from pious Bavaria, for some religious groups, Berlin is viewed as a city teeming with atheists. In December 2022, the local newspaper Berliner Zeitung reported that in the city of 3,645 million, only 18.018 Berliners were still a member of the Roman Catholic or Evangelical church. 

According to Küenzlen-Zielinski, the number of requests related to evangelical, Christian fundamentalist and pentecostal groups in Berlin has “risen fiercely”. Service users who have left such groups have reported an atmosphere of immense hostility towards sexual minorities as well as physical and psychological abuse. 

Jan Buschbom, a dropout counsellor working in Berlin, told broadcaster rbb that some extremist groups focus entirely on salvation after death. “The entirety of life on Earth is [...] considered “the devil’s work”. Children are punished with cold, systematic violence, but there are also incidents of physical violence that happen in a downright religious frenzy."

Global insecurities leading to successful recruitment by religious fundamentalists

Since 2008, Buschbom has seen the number of counselling service users at the association grow from two to 40. For Küenzlen-Zielinski, rising uncertainties and insecurities in people’s lives caused by coronavirus, worries about the climate crisis and the Ukraine war are the main causes for Berlin cult movements’ growth in recruitment.

People desire a “simplification of a reality that is experienced as opaque and overwhelming,” Küenzlen-Zielinski told rbb.

Thumb image credit: nitpicker /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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Wade Byron Profe 13:19 | 9 February 2023

"immense hostility towards sexual minorities" Translation: peacably maintaining the belief that there is a God and He has given certain commands with regard to sexual activity.