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Free churches gain ground

Twice as many people attend services each week in free – mostly evangelical – churches as in the state-recognised Protestant Church.

That is according to findings published on Thursday as part of a National Science Foundation project investigating religions, the state and society.

Twenty-nine per cent of all people who attend a religious service each week go to a free church while only 14 per cent visit the recognised Swiss Protestant Church.

The Catholic Church is the most popular, accounting for 38 per cent of the 690,000 (1 in every 11) Swiss who attend a weekly service.

The authors of the study said of the nearly 6,000 religious communities in Switzerland, about half belonged to either the state-recognised Catholic (30.5 per cent) or Protestant (19.1 per cent) churches.

Free churches make up 24.8 per cent of the total even though only about two per cent of the population claims to be a member of one of them. The authors said a reason for the high number is that on average, only 72 people belong to a free church community whereas around 2,000 are members of every Catholic or Protestant community.

And while only few Catholics (four per cent) or members of the main Protestant Church (three per cent) attend a weekly service, the free churches claim that all their followers visit regularly and they count other visitors on top of that. and agencies

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