Christianity Knowledge Base

Switzerland is a country in Europe. Switzerland has no country-wide state religion, though most of the cantons (except for Geneva and Neuchâtel) recognize official churches, in all cases including the Roman Catholic Church and the Swiss Reformed Church, in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church and Jewish congregations. These churches are financed by official taxation of adherents.


Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland. As of 2000, relgious affiliation in Switzerland includes. :


The 2005 Eurobarometer poll found 48% to be theist, 39% expressing belief in "some sort of spirit or life force", 9% atheist and 4% agnostic.

The country is historically about evenly balanced between Catholic and Protestant regions. The larger cities (Bern, Zürich, Basel, Geneva) are traditionally Protestant, while Central Switzerland and the Ticino are traditionally Catholic. The Swiss constitution of 1848, under the recent impression of the clashes of Catholic vs. Protestant cantons that culminated in the Sonderbundskrieg, consciously defines a consociational state, allowing the peaceful co-existence of Catholics and Protestants. A 1980 initiative calling for the complete separation of church and state was clearly rejected, with only 21.1% voting in support.


Christianity spread to Switzerland in the fourth century. The Bishopric of Basel was established in AD 346, that of Sion before 381, that of Geneva in ca. 400, that of Vindonissa in 517 (now united as the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg), the Diocese of Chur before 451. Germanic paganism briefly reached Switzerland with the immigration of the Alemanni from the 5th century, who were gradually converted to Christianity in the course of the 6th and 7th centuries, with the Bishopric of Constance established in ca. 585 as the bishop of Vindonissa moved there, the Abbey of St. Gall rising to 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 into a lasting split of the Confederacy into a Protestant and a Catholic part, leading to a number of violent outbreaks in Early Modern times. The secular Helvetic Republic was a brief intermezzo and tensions immediately resurfaced after 1815, leading to the formation of the modern federal state in 1848.


See also[]

  • Reformation in Switzerland
  • Roman Catholicism in Switzerland
  • History of the Jews in Switzerland
  • Demographics of Switzerland
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