Genevan authorities refuse permission public baptism


Central Europe


Baptism service at Lake Geneva. Photo YouTube, mrsteresa1999

Two Protestant churches in Switzerland are not allowed to hold baptism services on the public beaches of Lake Geneva. The local authorities refused the request of the congregations, which will now go into appeal.

Two Protestant churches in the canton of Geneva submitted a request for permission to celebrate baptism services on public beaches. However, the Geneva authorities refused their request.

In reaction, the churches filed an appeal, and Swiss umbrella organisations sent a report to the United Nations, Evangeliques.info writes.

The Swiss Evangelical Network RES-SEA states that it is appalled that "Geneva, the capital of human rights, takes such a restrictive and exclusive approach to religious freedom."

Earlier, the Federal Court ruled that the Law on State Secularism that restricts public baptisms was "contrary to religious freedom". It ruled that the "exercise of religious freedom, including the freedom to manifest one's beliefs in common and in public, is a fundamental right." In addition, the Canton of Geneva had promised that baptisms at the lake would remain to be allowed.

Explicit or tacit approval

The free churches in Switzerland have a long-standing tradition of public baptism services. They base this practice on the baptisms that took place during the time of the New Testament, Each reports. Every year, congregations hold adult baptism ceremonies on Lake Geneva's beaches. These services used to be held early in the morning when only a few people were around. The public authorities approved the tradition explicitly or tacitly.



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