Non-believers make up nearly 30% of Swiss population

Grossmünster Cathedral in Zurich on January 24, 2021: Because of the pandemic, church service congregations are limited to 50 people. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The number of residents without a religious faith has leapt over the past 20 years. In 2019, almost one-third (29.5%) of those over 15 did not belong to any religion, compared to 11.4% in 2000.

This content was published on January 26, 2021 - 16:04

The percentage of non-believers in Switzerland in 2019 rose by 1.6 percentage points more than the year before, according to figures released by the Federal Statistical Office on Tuesday.

Among foreign residents, 35.1% have no religious affiliation – 1.7 percentage points more than in 2018.

For Swiss nationals, the figure is slightly lower (27.6%), but rose by 1.5 percentage points in the space of a year. The proportion of people without any religious affiliation is particularly high among academics, where it stands at 43.7%, and in top management, where one in three has no religion.

Overall, 34.4% of adults living in Switzerland in 2019 said they were Roman Catholic; 22.5% were Protestant. Each religion had lost a fraction of a percentage point since 2018.

Fifty years ago, practically everyone in Switzerland belonged to one of the two national churches, with Protestants slightly outnumbering Catholics.

After a slight decline in 2018, the number of Muslims has increased slightly to 5.5% percent of the population, compared to 5.3% the year before. Jewish communities account for 0.2% of the population, less than half the size of the Hindu and Buddhist communities, which account for 0.6% and 0.5% respectively, unchanged from the previous year.

The general decline in religious affiliation is also reflected in practice: more than a third of adults living in Switzerland never attend religious services, and 45% had not prayed in the 12 months prior to the survey. At least a quarter say they have a daily conversation with God.

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Join the conversation!

With a SWI account, you have the opportunity to contribute on our website.

You can Login or register here.