Switzerland: Growing Number of People Has No Religious Affiliation

According to a report by the country’s Federal Statistics Office, almost a third of Switzerland’s population say they have no religion. 

Newsroom (22/07/2023 08:00, Gaudium Press) Almost a third of Switzerland’s population (32%) say they have no religion, according to the report by the Bureau of Federal Statistics of the country.  This is the second largest group in the country, behind Catholics who represent 33% of the Swiss population.

However, 50 years ago, the number of people who said they had no religion was just 1%. With the passing decades, the increase has been quite large: in 2000 they were 11%, in 2010 they became 20%, and in 2021 “the religionless” are 32%, almost a third of the population over the age of 15.

The number of those who have no religion is increasing

In the same period, Catholics went from 46.7% in 1970, to 42% in 2000 and in 2021 they were 32.9%. In 1970, Protestants were almost half the population; in 2000, the number fell to 33.9%; and in 2021, they represent 21.1%. While the number of “no-religionists” is significant in Switzerland, it is far lower than in other European countries such as France, where 57% of the population declare no religion.

The study found that the cantons with the highest number of people with no religion are the French-speaking cantons. In Bâle and Neuchâtel, French-speaking provinces, the percentage of people with no religious affiliation is 56% and 52% respectively. By contrast, in the Romansh-speaking cantons of Nidwald and Obwald, the respective percentages of “no-religion” are 23% and 20%. The overall average for the Italian and German cantons is between 26% and 31% respectively.

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According to the survey, people aged between 25 and 34 are the least religious, accounting for 41% of the total. Men are more likely to declare themselves to have no religion (35%) than women (30%).

Moving away from religion, belief in God

Two-thirds of those who currently declare themselves to have no religion practiced the Catholic religion in childhood (50%) or the Protestant religion (40%), but moved away from religious practices when they grew up.

The study participants were asked about the motivations that led them to leave religion. 29% responded that they do not agree with the position of religious communities, 15% said they have lost faith, 17% said they never had faith, and 4% are against religion. Other reasons were evoked, such as avoiding taxation, desire to practice religion outside institutional norms, among others.

Among the “religionless”, the consideration of the existence of God is not unanimous. About one-third of people with no religion believe in God or a “higher power”, 22% have doubts about the existence of a deity, and 38% believe in no god and no higher power. (FM)

Compiled by Carlos Ruiz


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