Last month, Libellula University Press released “The Public Funding of Religious Groups in Switzerland: Problems and Issues in the European Context,” edited by Vincenzo Pacillo (Modena University). The publisher’s description follows:
In Switzerland, the public funding of religious groups is actually under discussion. It supports only the groups which have the legal status of public law corporations, while, in a secular state, it seems that any privilege for some Churches should be abolished, or at least reduced so as not to hinder the equality in the freedom of all religions.
The book focuses on this discussion, with a comparative outlook to the Europe as a whole. It covers in particular the public funding of the religious groups in the Republic of Ticino, in which the system is very complex and the tool of the Church Tax is only a residual financing instrument.
This is a fascinating story detailing the recent history of conflict in Switzerland between various Muslim and state/non-Muslim interests. The newest controversy is the result of Muslim agitation to remove the white cross from the Swiss flag, ostensibly in order both to reflect the “separation of church and state” and Switzerland’s increasing “cultural diversity.” The group prefers a flag with colors and patterns resembling the flags of Bolivia and Ghana.
Switzerland has been the site of increasing strife stimulated by the dramatic increase in its Muslim immigrant population, which the story reports has quintupled since 1980. Among the many interesting conflicts reported in the story (including the minaret controversy) is the successful lawsuit by Muslim parents demanding the right to dress their children in full-body bathing suits (“burkinis”) during co-ed swimming lessons. — MOD