Tensions in Swiss churches about Covid regulations


Central Europe


Accepting the Covid regulations creates tensions in the Swiss independent churches. Photo AFP, Sebastien Bozon

The umbrella of German-speaking free churches in Switzerland is thinking about going to court against the new Covid regulations. It seems that the passes and limitations give too much tension to the local churches.

That is the news that is reported by Regards protestants.

The organisation Freikirchen.ch wants to get a full license for worship meetings for any religion. Since September 13th, all Swiss churchgoers have to have a pass. Above that, meetings are limited to 50 visitors. Freikirchen.ch is even willing to go as far as the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg.

The umbrella group is overwhelmed by protests from congregation members. Many local churches have accepted the state rules, but the ordinary churchgoers haven't. Especially in the German-speaking communities, there is little understanding of the acceptance of the regulations. In some churches, some were openly speaking about civil disobedience.

Together with the Swiss Evangelical Network (RES), Freikirchen.ch sent a letter to the federal government with the message: "According to the gospel, we don't want to deny anyone's physical presence in the divine service."

Apart from this, RES is very much against civil disobedience. In one church, the leadership had to organise a special meeting to explain why disobedience against the government is no option, reports Reformes.ch.

Of the independent free churches, a large majority seem to break the 50 people limit on Sundays. These churches belong to the most visited in the whole of Switzerland.

Vocal anti-vaxxers

According to Mr Christian Kuhn, director of RES, there is growing tension in many churches, even in families and leadership teams. "Some people agree to follow the authorities, while others are in the opposition. There are many conflicts of a private nature, within families, home groups and all service teams, although we are institutionally for compliance with the sanitary rules in place."

It is the pass and the group limits that split the churches and the question about the corona vaccination. Some congregations have a pretty large and vocal membership of anti-vaxxers.

Mr Philippe Henchoz, pastor in the evangelical church in Meyrin, is concerned. "In some congregations, I see a fragmentation, even a shrinking of identity because of this."

Many feel misled

The point is that many churchgoers feel misled. That is how Philippe Thueler (secretary-general of the French-speaking Federation of Evangelical Churches) sees the situation. "In May, we got the guarantee that there would be no health certificates in the church", he says.



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