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Évolution de la pratique religieuse

Although attendance is down, the main activity of the Roman Catholic and Reformed Churches is still the religious service. Only 13.9% of Catholics and 5.1% of Protestants attend church every Sunday. These proportions are very different in the Free Evangelical Churches where 82.2% of believers go to church every Sunday.

Even today, being baptised is the norm in Switzerland : 96.4% of Christians living in Switzerland say they are baptised, only a small minority of them were baptised as adults.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Eucharist is given at every mass. Furthermore, there is a "First" communion that must be preceded by confession and is made at the age of 9 or 10. Confirmation, which is also considered a sacrament, is administered to children at the age of 12 or 13. In the Reformed Church, Communion is given less often and its frequency varies. For example, in Zwingli’s tradition communion is only administered four times a year. Today, for theological reasons, the Reformed Church grants non-baptised children and adults the permission to participate in communion. The Reformed Church confirms children aged 15 to 16, but they does not consider it a sacrament. They view it as a public act of faith. In both of these Churches, these rites, once viewed as internal socialisation, are to be understood as more of a mission in a secular society.

Today in Switzerland, marriage is a civil law matter. It may be followed by a church wedding service, but it is not necessary. The percentage of married people in Switzerland is dropping : 1989 = 60.5% / 1999 = 50.9%. Among the total number of marriages, the percentage of Christian marriages is experiencing the same downward trend : 1989 = 89.2% / 1999 = 80.3%. Among Christian marriages there is a noticeable tendency to add a personal touch to the ceremony. Indeed, those who choose to have a Church wedding are adding more and more personal elements to the service. Lastly, the increase in interreligious marriages clearly indicates that the differences that once existed between religions have now disappeared.

With regard to funerals, the standard today in Switzerland is still the religious ceremony. In this type of ceremony as well, there is a tendency towards deinstitutionalisation and individualisation. Indeed, the number of rituals not part of church standards that have been integrated into the religious ceremony is increasing.

Another important rite is fasting. Traditionally, Friday is a day of fasting for Christians. There is only a small minority of Roman Catholics who observe this rule. Those who do, see fasting as more of an important social, medical or political act and no longer just as an act of penitence. In fact, many people view fasting as a gesture of solidarity with the poor of the world. Along with fasting, people often give the money they did not spend on food as a donation to either the Catholic organisation Action de Carême (Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund) or the Reformed Church’s organisation Brot für alle (Bread for All), which both fight against world famine.

Source of data :
 Projet FNSRS Nr. 12-52643.97 : Religion et lien social : construction et régulation des mobilisations religieuses. Directeur de projet : Roland J. Campiche ; Basis : Representative survey, 1999.
 Campiche, Roland and Dubach, Alfred et al., Croire en Suisse(s). Lausanne : éditions l’Age d’Homme,1992. Base : sondage représentatif de 1989.

See also : Monnot Christophe, "Mesurer la pratique religieuse. Différentes mesures, différents taux ? Analyse comparative à partir de la Suisse", Archives de sciences sociales des religions, avril-juin 2012, p. 137-156.

D 8 octobre 2012    AJoëlle Sanchez AJörg Stolz

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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