Religion in Switzerland
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Switzerland has no state religion, though most of the cantons (except for Geneva and Neuchâtel) recognize official churches (Landeskirchen), in all cases including the Catholic Church and the Swiss Reformed Church. These churches, and in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations, are financed by official taxation of adherents.
Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland (72.1% of total resident population). 20.1% of the total population are irreligious. The largest minority religion is Islam (4.5%, figures as of 2010).
The two major religious confessions are the Roman Catholic Church (38.8% of the population as of the 2010 census) and the Swiss Reformed Church (30.9%). The country is historically about evenly balanced between Catholic and Protestant regions. The larger cities (Bern, Zurich, Basel, Geneva) were and partly still are Protestant, while Central Switzerland and the Ticino are traditionally Catholic. 20.1% of the Swiss were irreligious.
Immigration has brought Islam (4.5% as of the 2010 census) and Eastern Orthodoxy (1.8% as of the 2000 census) as sizeable minority religions. Other Christian minority communities include Neo-Pietism (0.44%), Pentecostalism (0.28%, mostly incorporated in the Schweizer Pfingstmission), Methodism (0.12%), the New Apostolic Church (0.38%), Jehovah's Witnesses (0.28%), and the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland (0.18%).
Regarding personal belief, the 2010 Eurobarometer poll found that 44% of Swiss citizens expressed belief "that there is a God", 39% expressed belief in "some sort of spirit or life force" while 11% answered that that they did not believe that "there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force"
As in other European countries, the major Christian confessions are losing members whereas the numbers of non-religious and Muslims are increasing. As of 2000, about 84.5% of the Swiss adhered to Christianity down from 98% in 1970; about 15.5% were irreligious or refused to answer up from 1.5% but lower than in 2010 ; Islam remained the largest minority religion with 4.3% in 2000 (0.3% in 1970), increasing to 4.5 % in 2010.
The Swiss constitution of 1848, written by the victorious pro-union Protestant cantons after the Catholic-Separatist Civil War of 1847, consciously defines a consociational state, allowing the peaceful co-existence of Catholics and Protestants. However, the Catholic Jesuits (Societas Jesu) were banned from all activities in either clerical or pedagogical functions by Article 51 of the Swiss constitution in 1848. The reason was the perceived threat resulting from Jesuit advocacy of traditionalist Catholicism to the stability of the state. In June 1973, 54.9% of Swiss voters approved removing the ban on the Jesuits (as well as Article 52 which banned monasteries and convents from Switzerland); the vote reflected sharp divisions between the cantons, with 92% of Valais supporting, but 71% of Neuchâtel opposing removing the ban.
A popular vote in March 1981 on the complete separation of church and state was clearly opposed to such a change, with only 21.1% voting in support, to the effect of the retention of the Landeskirchen system.
In November 2009, 57.5% of Swiss voters (54% turnout) approved of a popular initiative to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland. The four existing Swiss minarets, at mosques in Zurich, Geneva, Winterthur and Wangen bei Olten are not affected by the ban.
Freedom of religion
Full freedom of religion has been guaranteed since the revised Swiss Constitution of 1874 (Article 49). During the Old Swiss Confederacy, there had been no de facto freedom of religion, with persecution of Anabaptists in particular well into the 18th century. Swiss Jews had been given full political rights in 1866, although their right to settle freely was implemented as late as 1879 in the canton of Aargau.
The current Swiss Constitution of 1999 makes explicit both positive and negative religious freedom in Article 15, paragraph 3--which asserts that every person has the right to adhere to a religious confession and to attend religious education—and paragraph 4, which asserts that nobody can be forced to either adhere to a religious confession or to attend religious education, thus explicitly asserting the right of apostasy from a previously held religious belief.
The basic right protected by the constitution is that of public confession of adherence to a religious community and the performance of religious cult activities. Article 36 of the constitution introduces a limitation of these rights if they conflict with public interest or if they encroach upon the basic rights of others. Thus, ritual slaughter is prohibited as conflicting with Swiss animal laws. Performance of cultic or missionary activities or religious processions on public ground may be limited. The Jesuit order was banned from all activity on Swiss soil from 1848 to 1973. The use of cantonal taxes to support cantonal churches (which has been argued as constituting a breach of "negative" religious freedom[according to whom?]) has been ruled legal by the Federal Supreme Court. Some commentators, especially in German media, have argued that the minaret ban introduced by popular vote in 2009 constitutes a breach of religious freedom.
Traces of the pre-Christian religions of the area that is now Switzerland include the Bronze Age "fire dogs". The Gaulish Helvetii, who became part of Gallo-Roman culture under the Roman Empire, left only scarce traces of their religion like the statue of dea Artio, a bear goddess, found near Bern. A known Roman sanctuary to Mercury was on a hill north-east of Baar. St. Peter in Zurich was the location of a temple to Jupiter.
The Bishopric of Basel was established in AD 346; the bishopric of Sion, before 381; the bishopric of Geneva. in c. 400: the bishopric of Vindonissa (now united as the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg), in 517; and the Diocese of Chur, before 451.
Germanic paganism briefly reached Switzerland with the immigration, from the 6th century, of the Alemanni, who were gradually converted to Christianity during the 6th and 7th centuries, with the establishment of the Bishopric of Constance in c. 585. The Abbey of St. Gall rose as an important center of learning in the early Middle Ages.
The Old Swiss Confederacy was Roman Catholic as a matter of course until the Reformation of the 1520s, which resulted in a lasting split of the Confederacy into Protestantism and Catholicism. This split lead to numerous violent outbreaks in Early Modern times and included the partitioning of the former canton of Appenzell into the Protestant canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Catholic Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1597. The secular Helvetic Republic was a brief intermezzo and tensions immediately resurfaced after 1815, leading to the formation of the modern confederal state in 1848, which recognizes Landeskirchen on a cantonal basis: the Roman Catholic and the Reformed Churches in each canton, and since the 1870s (following the controversies triggered by the First Vatican Council) the Christian Catholic Church in some cantons.
Over the following years, the Jesuits returned to the Swiss colleges they had owned prior to 1773, in Brig (1814), Sion (1814), Fribourg (1818) and Lucerne (1845), and especially Fribourg became a center of the Council of Trent. The Protestant cantons felt threatened by the re-appearance of the Jesuits and their program of traditionalist Catholicism, which contributed to religious unrest and the formation of the Sonderbund of the Catholic cantons, and at the Tagsatzung of 1844 in vain demanded the expulsion of the Jesuit order from the territory of the Swiss confederacy. The Protestant victory of the Sonderbundskrieg of 1847 led to the realization of such a ban in the 1848 Swiss Constitution, expanded even further in the revised constitution of 1874, so that all activity of Jesuits either in clerical or in educational function was outlawed in Switzerland until 1973, when the paragraph was removed from the constitution by a popular vote.
- Swiss Brethren
- Irreligion in Switzerland
- Minaret controversy in Switzerland
- Buddhism in Switzerland
- Hinduism in Switzerland
- Sikhism in Switzerland
- Demographics of Switzerland
- Religions by country
- Religion in Europe
Notes and references
- state.gov - Switzerland
- Swiss Department of the Interior, Press release, p. 13
- CIA World Factbook section on Switzerland
- Bovay, Claude; Raphaël Broquet (December 2004), "Introduction" (pdf), Recensement fédéral de la population 2000 (in French), Neuchâtel: Federal Statistical Office, p. 12, ISBN 3-303-16074-0, retrieved 21 August 2010
- "Special Eurobarometer, biotechnology, page 204" (PDF). Fieldwork: Jan-Feb 2010.
- Bundesamt für Statistik, Eidgenössische Volkszählungen
- NZZ, 21 July 2009
- Swiss Statistical Office
- Swiss vote to ban construction of minarets on mosques, The Guardian 29 November 2009
- BGE 107 Ia 126, 130[year needed]
- Zeit Online 30 November 2009. Claudio Cordone of Amnesty International in an The International Herald Tribune op-ed, 2 December 2009. The Swiss Islamic organization VOIZ more diplomatically invoked an "undermining" of religious freedom (15 May 2007).
- Baarburg at Tages-Anzeiger 5 June 2008 ;
- Franz Xaver Bischof: Jesuits in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2008.
- Marcel Stüssi MODELS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Switzerland, the United States, and Syria by Analytical, Methodological, and Eclectic Representation, 375 ff. (Lit 2012).
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