According to a poll taken by the newspapers Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung, only 38% of those polled thought it would be a good idea to give islam the same status as christianity and judaism in Switzerland. Of those in support, 18% said yes, while 20% were somewhat in favour.
The remaining 62% were against or somewhat against such a move. 80% of respondents agreed that christian values are part of Swiss identity.
The online survey collected the views of 15,617 people.
In August, Socialist Party president Christian Levrat, called for a debate on the place of islam in Switzerland saying: “We must reflect on whether we want to recognize islam as an official religion. That would avoid leaving the training and financing of imams to foreign, sometimes fundamentalist groups.”
PDC (CVP) president, Gerhard Pfister, has voiced opposition to official recognition of islam in Switzerland several times.
In Switzerland, the cantons rather than federal government decide on religious matters. Most cantons, or states, recognise particular faiths and allow residents to opt into paying supplementary religious taxes, used to fund the operations of their chosen faith. There are many cantonal differences and no generalisations that can be applied to all of Switzerland.
The canton of Zurich recognises the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical-Reformed Church, the Catholic Christian Church and Judaism1. It collects optional religious taxes on behalf of religious groups.
The canton of Vaud is different. While it recognises the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical-Reformed Church and Judaism2 it collects no religious taxes. Instead of an optional religious tax, the canton funds religious institutions directly out of regular taxes3, a system criticized by some who object to being forced to indirectly fund certain religions, something they consider should be an optional private matter.
The canton of Geneva is different again. It is a secular state, officially recognising no religion4. However, like Zurich it collects optional religious taxes on behalf of religious groups.
Some like Jean-Noël Cuénod, a Swiss journalist, author, religious history expert and government advisor, think Geneva is an integration model for the rest of Switzerland. Cantons that recognise some religions but exclude islam will aid radical muslims who feel excluded by the state, he says. Geneva avoids this by recognising no religion.
1 Article in Zurich’s constitution dealing with religious institutions (in German)
2 In Vaud, the Roman Catholic and Evangelical-Reformed Churches have recognised and independent legal status, while Judaism is designated as an institution of public interest.
3 Article in Vaud’s constitution dealing with religious institutions (in French)
4 Article in Geneva’s constitution dealing with religious institutions (in French)
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Overview of church taxes across all cantons (in French) – opens PDF
Overview of church taxes across all cantons (in German) – opens PDF