Why should one convert to Christianity?

How does converting work?

Tanja and I share a hostel room in Jerusalem. At some point you automatically talk about religion here. She is a Christian, a few years older than me and with a Muslim. The two want to get married, he wants her to convert to Islam. "Are you doing that?" I ask. She hasn't quite made up her mind yet, but wouldn't really have a problem with it.

I wonder if that is possible: Is it possible to convert from Christianity to Islam just like that? And what about Judaism? Would switching to a Jewish community be more difficult? What do you have to pay attention to when changing religion?

How do you become a Muslim / a?

“Very, very briefly and individually” is how Ahmed Al-Khalifa from the Islamic Center in Munich describes the path of a convert to Islam to me. I would therefore already be a Muslim if I believed in "the God of creation and his mercy" - and that Mohammed was the last prophet whom God sent to earth.

"Belief is a matter between man and God," says Al-Khalifa, no one can judge another person's belief. Therefore, Muslim converts do not have to take an exam in front of other Muslims.

A few weeks ago, for example, a woman from a village in Lower Saxony called him and spoke to someone about her faith for the first time, says Al-Khalifa. "The woman had been a Muslim for 14 years and nobody but her and Allah knew it."

Converts can show their faith to other Muslims by publicly professing God and his prophets or by regularly praying in a mosque. You don't have to have a permanent mosque community: You can freely change mosques. Or just pray at home. Circumcision in men is not compulsory.

If you want to find out more about Islam, you can inquire at mosques nearby or ask for advice from the Central Council of Muslims.

To become evangelical

At the info hotline of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) I am told that you could even join the Evangelical Church by telephone - provided you have already been baptized as a Christian and left your old parish. In this case, you would only need to dial the free entry hotline (0800-813-813-8 or 0711-22-27-673) and talk to a pastor about joining the church and have the necessary documents sent to your home. Those who are not baptized who want to convert can find out more about the entry points of the individual regional churches or directly from the rectory around the corner. They are offered adult baptism courses to prepare them for entry into the parish and their baptism. How often these courses take place depends on the regional church and the parish.

Entering the church itself does not cost any money, but as a congregation member you have to pay church tax.

The way to a Catholic community

If you want to go on the catechumenical path, i.e. want to become Catholic, you first have to talk to a Catholic pastor or pastor and explain why you want to convert. The meeting with the pastor is followed by a visit to a Catholic faith discussion group. You should take part in this several times in order to learn more about the holidays and holy sacraments of the Catholic Church.

If you feel ready, you go back to the pastor, who applies to a bishop for the convert to join the church. There is no exam or anything like that. You only have to be non-denominational during the application, which means that you are not allowed to belong to any church congregation. After a “yes” from the bishop, those converting who are not baptized must celebrate their baptism in order to become members of the ward. Anyone who has already been baptized in a Protestant community does not have to. Even Catholics do not differentiate between Catholic and Protestant baptisms in converts.

As in the Protestant Church, members of Catholic parishes have to pay church tax after joining the church.

How long does it take to become Jewish?

The conversion to Judaism is the most complex. I found out about this in a conversation with Konstantin Pal, rabbi and head of the cultural administration of the Jewish community in Berlin. "Judaism has never proselytized, never said 'become a part of us'," explains Pal. Therefore, one would first have to convince a rabbi of his motives in intensive discussions. Mere interest is not a reason.

If the rabbi is convinced, the learning phase begins. "If you want to convert, you first have to learn to be Jewish and second, you have to become part of the community," says Pal. Conversion candidates must therefore attend courses on Judaism, the food rules and Jewish holidays, and should also learn Hebrew for at least one year. During this time you can already passively participate in church services in the synagogue - so that you get to know the congregation and the congregation get to know the convert.

It is also the community and the rabbi who decide when to be ready to be examined by the Beit Din rabbinical court. The Beit Din consists of at least three rabbis who, after talking to the convert, decide on his or her entry into the community. For men, circumcision is still pending before attending the rabbinical court. If, after the conversation, the rabbis of Beit Din agree, you are part of the Jewish community and the mikvah, a religious baptismal bath, is waiting for you. "Immersion in the mikveh symbolizes an act of renewal, a new life," explains Pal.

Similar to Christians, Jews also pay a monthly amount, but this goes directly to the congregation and varies from place to place.

Nadine, 24, has not heard from Tanja since the trip and wonders whether she has converted in the meantime - maybe she reads this article by chance and gets in touch with her. Five basic tips for changing religion:
1. In principle, anyone can convert to all three Abrahamic religions (i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism, all of which refer to Abraham as the progenitor).

2. If you are thinking about a change of religion, you should first talk to other believers from the target religion about their beliefs.

3. You should also deal with the respective scriptures (Koran, Bible, Torah) and possibly attend a church service.

4. If after researching you are still convinced that you want to change your faith, you should get in touch with official representatives of the religions concerned.

5. The path to the new religion varies in length. Converting to Judaism, for example, is much more difficult than becoming a Muslim / a. One should be aware of the effort involved in changing one's religion.

Text: nadine-wolter - Cover collage: Daniela Rudolf