A helpline that provides information about sects in Switzerland has seen an 11% increase in requests for information.
Infosekta, an independent Zurich-based association that answers queries about different sects, received over 2,600 requests for information last year, it said in its annual reportexternal link on Thursday.
The majority of requests were regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses (15%), YOU Church (5%), Scientology (3%), International Christian Fellowship (2%) and the Anastasia movement (2%).
Around 17% of information requests were made by social services, schools, municipal governments or media institutions. Infosekta also received enquiries from abroad (16%). In most cases, those reaching out to Infosekta knew someone who had joined a sect. In around 15% of the cases, the enquiry involved one or more minors.
According to the most recent religious statistics about the Swiss population (8.4 million), Catholics remain the biggest faith group - 37% of permanent residents in 2016, down from 47% in 1970. The percentage of Swiss Protestants has fallen since 1970 from 49% to 25%. The other biggest religious communities include Muslims (353,000), Hindus (38,000) and Jews (17,000).
Observers estimate that there are around 1000 small sectsexternal link in Switzerland.