Sunday, March 9, 2014

Did I get thrown out of the church?

When I moved to Switzerland in 2002, I filled out a form at the commune, declaring my residency. At the "Religion" line item, I wrote: "Protestant." My religious affiliation has always been complicated to explain. When I was one, I was baptized in the Swiss Reformed Church. Five years later, I was baptized again in the French Roman Catholic Church.

Returning to my Swiss roots, it now made sense to go back to my original religion. Plus "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." I was now living in a Protestant part of Switzerland. I remembered studying Henry IV of France, who was known for changing from Protestant to Roman Catholic in order to avoid further bloodshed and for saying: "Paris is well worth a Mass."

So for years, I paid taxes to the Swiss Reformed Church. Even after getting married, my residency card continued to list me as a Protestant, even though my then-husband, an atheist, was listed as "other." But upon my divorce and name change, I noticed on my newly-arrived residency card, that I had inherited my ex-husband's "other."

So, I am happy to report, I am no longer paying church tax but am perplexed about my "other" religion. Was I thrown out of the church? Or was it a clerical error? Perhaps, they didn't want me anymore. Perhaps, the divorce made me too sinful. One thing is for certain, it is often assumed that women taken on much of the man's status: their "Heimatort" or hometown, their name and now their religion--or lack of religion--too.


  1. I had no idea you paid tax to a church in Switzerland. So much for separation of church and State. I'm glad you are writing again. I'm enjoying Switzerland vicariously through you from a great distance.

  2. There is no separation of church and state as in the USA. The Swiss flag makes that obvious with its big white cross.
    Love the humor in this blog!

  3. There is a separation between church and state here. The government helps in collecting the money, but all of it goes straight to the church.