|Switzerland is a Christian country. The preamble
to the Constitution ends with the words, "In the name of Almighty God."
Church spires are landmarks in towns and villages across the country. Many
Swiss holidays and celebrations have religious origins.
About 40% of Swiss are Protestants and about 46% are Roman Catholics. The slightly larger number of Roman Catholics includes Italian and Spanish workers living in Switzerland. There is also a small Jewish community. About 9% of the population has no religious affiliation.
|Religion has played an important role in Swiss
history. In 1519, Ulrich Zwingli, a Catholic priest, called for the reform
of the Catholic Church. Geneva became an important centre of the Reformation
and the Protestant movement in the 16th century. John Calvin, a French
reformer, fled to Geneva in 1533 when his opinions about the need to reform
the Church brought him into opposition with Catholic leaders in France.
English Protestant exiles in Geneva translated the Bible into English.
Their version became known as the Geneva Bible, first published in 1560.
Many distinct Protestant groups originated in Switzerland. Conrad Grebel, who was born in Zurich, was a follower of Zwingli. He helped found a group called the Swiss Free Church (also known as the Swiss Brethren) in 1525. This church differed from the Roman Catholic Church and from other Protestant denominations because it advocated adult baptism for Christians instead of infant baptism. The Swiss Brethren developed into the Christian group known as the Mennonites. In the 18th and 19th centuries many Mennonites emigrated to Canada and the United States because they faced persecution for their beliefs in Europe.
|Jacob Amman, a Swiss Mennonite, founded a new
group in 1693, known as the Amish. His followers lived by farming and held
worship services in people's homes, not in churches. In the 18th century,
many Amish moved to the eastern United States. Mennonites and Amish in
north America still live in farming communities, apart from the rest of
society. Most do not use modern technology and continue to dress as they
did in the 18th century.
Today, the Swiss are tolerant of each other's beliefs. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all in Switzerland under the constitution. Greek Orthodox, New Evangelical, Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist churches, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, Buddhist temples and other places of worship can be found in Switzerland.