Switzerland

The Situation of Protestant Church(es) in Switzerland

The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland was promoted initially by Huldrych Zwingli in 1519. Seven cantons remained Roman Catholic. There were inter-cantonal wars, known as the Wars of Kappel. Zwingli was killed in a battle at the age of 47. After Zwingli’s death, Heinrich Bullinger took over his post in Zurich. The German churches are more in the Zwinglian tradition, the French more in the Calvinist tradition. In 1549, the dispute between Bullinger and Calvin was settled with the Consensus Tigurinus.

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In Switzerland, 36,5 % of the population are Roman Chatholic, 24,5% belong to the Swiss Reformed Church, 24,9 % are unaffiliated, 5,9 % are members of other Christian churches and 5,1 % are Muslims. The Swiss Reformed Churches, together, have approximately 2.4 million members.
The status of the church differs according to region. In many areas the Reformed Church is recognized as an official church and financed by official taxation. In other regions Jewish congregations and the Old Catholic Church are also officially recognized and financed. But there are areas without any official church recognition (Geneva, Neuchâtel).
In 1920, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC/SEK/FESC) was formed to serve as a legal umbrella in interaction with the federal government and to represent the church in international relations (24 member churches). The FSPC (SEK) takes positions on political issues and also comments on contemporary theological and ethical questions in its own publications. In the sphere of religion, it represents its member churches in the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE), the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). The FSPC maintains relations with partner churches in Switzerland and abroad, with the Jewish and Muslim communities, the Episcopal Conference, as well as with relief agencies and mission organizations.
The ordination of women exists in all cantonal churches. Most of the German speaking Swiss Reformed Churches have openly welcomed gay and lesbian members to celebrate their civil unions within a church context.