This post collected by Rafiq Tschannen, a Swiss convert to Islam
Source: The Local
The Swiss Federal Statistics Office has just published new figures on the religion in the country. Here are seven key takeaways.
1) Catholics are the largest religious group in Switzerland
Members of the Catholic Church (35.9 percent) made up the largest religious community in Switzerland in 2017, followed by members of the Swiss Reformed Church (25 percent).
A total of 5.4 percent of people belonged to Islamic communities while members of Jewish communities comprised 0.3 percent of the population.
2) More and more people are leaving the big churches
The number of people who belong to the Catholic and Swiss Reformed churches is continuing to fall in Switzerland.
In 1990, 46.2 percent of people in Switzerland belonged to the Catholic Church but by 2017 that figure had dropped to 35.9 percent. For the Reformed Church the decline is even greater: 39.6 percent in 1990 against 23.8 percent in 2017.
3) The number of people who don’t belong to a religious community has risen dramatically
With so many people leaving the large Catholic and Reformed churches, it makes sense that the number of ‘unaffiliated’ people has also risen – from just 3.4 percent in 1990 to 26 percent in 2017.
This figure is highest among people aged 25 to 44: 32.5 percent. The percentage of people aged 65 and over who don’t belong to a church is 16.1 percent.
4) People are (probably) not just leaving the church for financial reasons
Relations between church and state are a cantonal matter in Switzerland and in most cantons church members pay a direct ‘church tax’ on their income. The amount of tax varies from canton to canton and even from commune to commune and often runs to hundreds of francs a year.
But while the FSO statistics do not reveal why people are leaving the church, it appears money may not be not the main reason.
The authors of another newly published study on religion in Zurich found that older city residents often left the church because they no longer agreed with its position on issues while young people tended to leave because they had never believed.
In both cases, however, money was not one of the main reasons cited.
Meanwhile, religion researcher Stefan Huber from the University of Bern told the Der Bund newspaper that Switzerland was becoming increasingly secular.
“In contrast to how it used to be, it is no longer necessary to belong to a church to be a good Swiss,” he said.
5) Not everyone who leaves the church is a non-believer
According to the FSO figures, only a third of people who are unaffiliated with a church describe themselves as atheists. One quarter say they are agnostic, one in ten say they believe there is just one god, and around one in three express a belief in a higher power.
The new figures also reveal religion or spirituality plays a major role for 56 percent of people in difficult moments in their lives. In addition, nearly half of all people (47 percent of all people) said spiritual or religious considerations were important when it came to raising children, and 16 percent said these considerations influenced their political views.
6) Over half of all women believe in ‘guardian angels’
Women in Switzerland are more likely to belong to a church than men (just) and are more likely to pray on a daily basis (35 percent against 20 percent).
They are also far more likely to think there are “probably” or “definitely” guardian angels or supernatural beings that watch over them (58 percent for women versus 37 percent for men).
Finally, 46 percent of women believe there are people with healing or clairvoyant powers. For men, the figure is 42 percent.