Pray for Switzerland

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Today has been a wild day.  I was up at 4:30 AM with Teri helping her get ready to leave for a few days.  She went over to Switzerland to visit Hannah Neilly, a young lady from Northern Ireland, who is working as Au Pair in Geneva.  Teri will be gone until Saturday morning, so on top of my usual duties, I am running things on the homefront.

I must say that the work that Teri puts in every day is amazing.  Three kids can sure make life exciting.  We had a good time, and I think the kids went to bed quite tired out.

This afternoon, Sam and I went around to some primary schools and left stacks of invitations to the St. Patrick’s Festival for them to distribute to their students.  Later on, we came back to our house and worked on building a side gate to make it where the kids cannot get out of our back yard and onto the street when they play.

It was good to talk with Teri tonight via skype.  It sounds like she is having a good time.  She and Hannah went to Lausanne, Switzerland today.  She said that everything is beautiful with the Alps towering above Geneva Lake.  She is taking lots of photographs, and I look forward to seeing them.

As I learn about Switzerland, it makes me burdened to think about the need there.  I did a little study about the spiritual condition of this country, and this is what I found:

  • In a wideranging poll of Swiss attitudes taken in 2000, only 16% of Swiss people said religion was “very important” to them, far below their families, their jobs, sport or culture.
  • Another survey published the same year showed the number of regular church goers had dropped by 10% in 10 years.
  • Among Catholics, 38.5% said they did not go to church, while among Protestants the figure was 50.7%.
  • Only 71% of the total of those asked said they believed in God at all.
  • The demand for church baptisms, weddings and funerals has fallen sharply in the last 30 years.
  • The 2000 census showed that the Roman Catholic and the mainstream Protestant church (the Reformed-Evangelical) had lost in both absolute terms (the number of members) and in relative terms (their share of the total population.)
  • The free evangelical churches accounted for 2.2% of the population; the Christian Catholic church made up 0.2%.
  • The Jewish community also remained more or less unchanged. Recent immigration has brought members of other faiths to Switzerland, in particular Islam and Orthodox Christianity.
  • Switzerland’s third biggest religious group is Islam. The 2000 census showed that there are over 300,000 Muslims in the country, slightly more than twice as many as in 1990. Many of these Muslims are refugees or asylum seekers, but the number of Swiss nationals who are Muslims has increased from 7,700 to 36,500 in ten years.
  • The number of Orthodox Christians has also increased as a result of immigration from central and eastern European countries. They total more than 130,000.
  • The number of followers of Judaism has remained stable, with around 17,900.
  • There are some 21,000 Buddhists following different schools. Just over half the Buddhists are Swiss nationals. The biggest Buddhist temple in Switzerland, Wat Srinagarindravararam, opened in canton Solothurn in 2003. It follows the Theravada school.
  • There has been a steep rise in the number of people saying they belong to no religion. They now account for just over 11% of the population, against 7.4% in 1990, and 1.1% in 1970.
  • According to this site, in the city of Basel, 50 per cent of the population do not consider themselves either Protestant or Catholic.

Read about other countries around the world at bcwe.org.

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