Society

Religious Beliefs In Switzerland

Christianity is the largest religion in Switzerland.

Switzerland is among the highly developed nations in the world, and according to data from the IMF, it has the highest nominal wealth per adult. Switzerland's history spans across several centuries with the country being formally formed in 1291 after the death of the emperor of Habsburg. Switzerland has long maintained a neutral position in world events which caused tensions among the citizens, particularly during the First World War. Christianity has long been the dominant religion in the state although the percentage of the population who identify with the religion has declined from 98.7% in 1910 to 66.9% in 2016. The Swiss constitution guarantees freedom of religion and provides that there be no state religion.

Top Religions in Switzerland

Christianity - 66.9%

Saint Gallus was primarily responsible for introducing Christianity to the Swiss who at the time practiced Germanic paganism. Roman Catholicism was the only Christian denomination practiced in Switzerland until the Reformation led to a change in the status quo. Currently, the Swiss Reformed Church (24.5%) and the Roman Catholic Church (36.5%) are the major Christian denominations in Switzerland. About 5.9% of the Swiss population belong to other Christian denominations such as the Jehovah's Witness and Pentecostalism. Switzerland's history is closely intertwined with the Reformation as it provided refuge for reformers fleeing religious persecution. John Calvin, one of the leading figures behind the Reformation, even established the republic of Geneva in 1541. Despite having no state religion, some Swiss cantons have official churches. Membership in Swiss churches requires the payment of church tax to provide for the upkeep of the church.

Islam - 5.2%

At least 5% of the Swiss population in 2016 identified with Islam as their religion. Traditionally Islam has not had a significant presence in Switzerland except during the 10th century when Arabs and Berbers occupied parts of Swiss territory. Islam has spread to Switzerland due to migrant communities mainly from nations such as Bosnia, Turkey, and Albania. The 1990's saw a massive influx of Muslim migrants into the country as people fled from the Yugoslav War. The first mosque in Switzerland was built in 1962 by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on a parcel of land given to them by the Swiss government. In 2009, Switzerland held a referendum that resulted in a ban on construction of minarets.

Judaism - 0.3%

Jews have lived in Switzerland for nearly a millennium and during that time they have faced immeasurable persecution. Many of the Jews living in Bern in 1294 were killed by the Christians in the city seeking revenge for a murdered Christian boy. Jews were only granted equal rights in 1876. Census data indicates that nearly 20,000 Jews are living in Switzerland with the Zurich Metropolitan area having the highest concentration of Jews, a third of their total population. Ruth Dreifuss was elected the first woman president of the Swiss Confederation and the only person with a Jewish background to hold the position.

Religious Tolerance in Switzerland

Switzerland has overcome its history of religious intolerance to emerge as one of the most tolerant states in the world. The Swiss government ensures every person's right to practice their religion of choice and prevents people from being discriminated against by their religion.

Religious Beliefs In Switzerland

Rank´╗┐Religious Beliefs in SwitzerlandPercentage of the population aged 15 and over
1Christian - Roman Catholic36.5%
2Unaffiliated24.9%
3Christian - Reformed24.5%
4Christian - Other5.9%
5Islam5.2%
6Other Religions 1.4%
7Jewish0.3%

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