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A study on religion by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office found that more and more people are leaving the big churches in Switzerland, reports The Local Switzerland.

Memberships in the Catholic and Swiss Reformed churches continue to decline. Almost half of the Swiss population (46.2%) in 1990 were Catholics, but by 2017, the figure dropped to 35.9%. The same trend is seen at the Reformed Church with 39.6% in 1990 to 23.8% in 2017.

In contrast to how it used to be, it is no longer necessary to belong to a church to be a good Swiss. —Stefan Huber, Religion researcher from the University of Bern

Figures revealed that not all of those who leave the church are non-believers. Among those who decided to become unaffiliated, one-third of them said they are atheists, while one-fourth of them said they are agnostics. One in 10 Swiss individuals believes in just one god, while one in three believes in a higher power.

Another study on religion revealed that Swiss people leave the church not because of money. The older residents said they leave their religion because their views on different issues are not aligned with the church’s. Meantime, the young citizens in Switzerland leave because they had never believed in religion in the first place.

The Swiss may be leaving the church, but the country is still considered as highly religious compared to other European countries, reports Le News.

The survey, Europe’s Young Adults and Religion, showed that 46% of young people aged 16-29 in Switzerland said they have no religion. The figure is still low compared to Czech Republic (91%), Estonia (80%), Sweden (75%), and the Netherlands (72%).

Religion researcher Stefan Huber from the University of Bern, said, “In contrast to how it used to be, it is no longer necessary to belong to a church to be a good Swiss.”

Despite the decline in numbers, the Catholic Church remains the largest religious group in Switzerland, with 35.9% of the population adhering to its beliefs and practices.

While the study didn’t explain why Switzerland is a predominantly Catholic country, Huber suggested that the reason may be that Catholics view physical churches as an important part in connecting with God while members of the Reformed Church do not have the same need. He added that foreigners migrating to the European country find it hard to integrate into their lives the teachings of the Swiss Reform Church which is closely connected with the Swiss culture.

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