Religionswissenschaftler melden sich zu Wort

Prof. Martin Baumann, Leiter des Religionswissenschaftlichen Seminars der Universität Luzern

Religionsführer Zürich. 370 Kirchen, religiös-spirituelle Gruppierungen, Zentren und weltanschauliche Bewegungen der Stadt Zürich
Zürich: Orell Füssli
606 pp., SFr 54.00, EUR 32.50
ISBN 3-280-05086-3

During recent years, some 20 studies have appeared which take stock of and describe the plurality of religious traditions and worldviews of a German or Swiss city. These studies provide most welcome windows to the new religious pluralism in a local region. For example, studies have been undertaken covering major cities, such as Berlin, Frankfurt, and Leipzig as well as smaller cities, such as Bonn, Basel, and Lucerne. The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich, with 360,000 inhabitants, has been researched by Claude-Alain Humbert, a free-lance researcher. He collected data about 370 Christian churches, religious centres, and spiritual groups. Two facts stand out: Christianity, mainstream religion and the background of 70% of Zurich's population, is sub-divided into a multitude of churches, orders, movements, evangelical communities, and churches related to Christianity. The striking plurality and internal heterogeneity applies to Roman-Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox as well as Free and Pentecostal Churches. Secondly, some 9% of Zurich's inhabitants belong to so-called non-Christian religions and the  largest community among these are the Muslim communities, although numerically they are far behind the Christian majority. The study underscores the apparent diversity of the 'world religions', which is reflected in a multitude of different groups, centres, and associations. Each 'tradition'-whether Judaism, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism-displays a conspicuous variety and thus none speaks with a united voice. Also, 'other associations', comprising organisations such as the Swiss Druid Order or Scientology, add to the picture of plurality regarding religions and worldviews in Zurich. Humbert describes each group, providing address details and additional literature. At times, the portrays lack critical distance, but they are useful and informative. The categorisations of Muslim and Hindu groups mirror those in the Christian handbook Churches, Sects, Religions. The notion of Islam and Hindu 'derived' movements or traditions implicitly questions the legitimacy of such groups, a trait typically found in the work of some writers and critics, especially Christian 'sect observers'. However, this extensive volume is a timely contribution to the increasing phenomenon of pluralisation in the religious landscape of a city and urban region.

University of Lucerne, Switzerland