Name of God remains in most Swiss cantonal constitutions


Central Europe


General view of the Swiss parliament during a night debate. Photo AFP, Fabrice Coffrini

A Swiss Parliament Committee has rejected the removal of the name of God from the Constitution. However, the cantons of Neuchâtel and Geneva agreed to the proposal.

"In the name of God Almighty! The Swiss people and the Swiss cantons, conscious of their responsibility for Creation, (...) hereby adopt the following Constitution." This is how the preamble to the Swiss Federal Constitution begins. Much to the displeasure of MP Fabian Molina. The member of the National Council, one of the chambers of the Swiss Parliament, earlier submitted a initiative to amend the text.

Molina wanted to remove the divine reference and replace "Creation" with "the environment". In his view, the current opening line excludes people of non-Christian faiths and non-believers and thus runs counter to the freedom of faith and conscience guaranteed by the Constitution.


However, on 25 February, the Political Institutions Committee voted against the draft by 14 votes to 6 Evangeliques.info reports. "The committee considers the invocation in the preamble as a sign of humility because no one can claim to be all-powerful," the elected representatives said in a statement. "It is a traditional element of the Constitution which should not be understood in a strict Christian sense."

Nevertheless, two of the nineteen cantons, Neuchâtel and Geneva, decided to remove all religious references from their cantonal constitutions. The people of the canton of Neuchâtel say they are "conscious of their responsibilities towards the human person", while the people of Geneva express their gratitude for "their humanist, spiritual, cultural and scientific heritage".

"In the name of God Almighty!" was the opening line of the preamble to the Swiss Constitution since 1848.



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