Protestant Church Switzerland appeals in public baptism case


Central Europe


Christian believer is baptised by immersion. Photo AFP, Ahmad Gharabli

The Protestant Church of Cologny filed an appeal to the Federal Court on Tuesday. The Church disagrees with the ban on baptisms in Lake Geneva.

The legal battle about the ban on baptisms in public waters continues, Evangeliques.info writes.

Last July, the Canton of Geneva refused to permit a baptism ceremony in the Lake of Geneva. It based its decision on the law of secularism, which demands that religious practices are restricted to the private sphere. However, the Swiss Evangelical Network (RES), which supports the Protestant Church of Cologny in the appeal request, says this is unacceptable. It argues that baptisms in public spaces are an ancient practice. The Church calls the ban an “unjustified attack on religious freedom and assembly.”


It is the first time that the law on secularism is used for a court case, Stéphane Klopfenstein from the RES says. “We hope that the Federal Court will take a stand and question the implementing regulations of this recent law”, he states. Klopfenstein believes that having to ask permission for baptisms is a bridge too far. “No non-religious associations have to request it if they want to meet in the public space.”

The Church took the canton to court but has thus far not won any case. In December, the Court of Justice of the Republic and Canton of Geneva rejected the complaint. If the Federal Court also rules in favour of the canton, the Protestant Church and the RES can take the case to the European Court.



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