swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

Your Gateway to Switzerland

Religious landscape

Membership of Christian churches has shrunk in recent years. In a wideranging poll of Swiss attitudes taken in 2000, only 16% of Swiss people said religion was "very important" to them, far below their families, their jobs, sport or culture. Another survey published the same year showed the number of regular church goers had dropped by 10% in 10 years. Among Catholics, 38.5% said they did not go to church, while among Protestants the figure was 50.7%. Only 71% of the total of those asked said they believed in God at all. The demand for church baptisms, weddings and funerals has fallen sharply in the last 30 years. The 2000 census showed that the Roman Catholic and the mainstream Protestant church (the Reformed-Evangelical) had lost in both absolute terms (the number of members) and in relative terms (their share of the total population.)

On the other hand, the smaller offshoots of these two churches were proportionately the same as before. The free evangelical churches accounted for 2.2% of the population; the Christian Catholic church made up 0.2%.

The Jewish community also remained more or less unchanged. Recent immigration has brought members of other faiths to Switzerland, in particular Islam and Orthodox Christianity.

Even if the churches are no longer relevant in many people's lives, both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have played a key role in shaping modern Switzerland and the way in which Swiss people see themselves.

Percentage of Swiss population according to religion

Percentage of Swiss population according to religion
Religion Percent 2002
Federal Statistical Office (2002)  
Roman Catholicism 41.8
Protestantism (of which Free Evangelicals and related churches) 35.3 (2.2)
Islam 4.3
Orthodox Christianity 1.8
Other Christianity 0.4
Hinduism 0.4
Buddhism 0.3
Judaism 0.2
Other 0.1
None 11.1
No reply 4.3

"I have a Protestant culture inside me and a Catholic background. Seriousness and pleasure. Intransigence and balance."

 

Jacques Chessex (1934 - ) Poet, novelist, art critic

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