|panorama of Zürich taken by me 2014|
The reformation in Switzerland was later than and more intense than Martin Luther's in Germany. Switzerland's reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, disagreed with Luther about the consecration of the eucharist. He was installed at Grossmunster church in Zürich. In Neuchatel, there was Guillame Farel, who met our third reformer, John Calvin in Geneva as the latter was headed to Strassburg. If you'll notice, 2 of these three were from the north and west of the country. It was the city-folk in the north west who seemed primed for reform. The country folk in the middle and the Italy-neighboring south held fast to Catholicism and damn if they didn't have more fun than their Calvinist neighbors. (Calvinism is marked by austerity and referred to by that name by Lutherans. They would simply call it reformed christianity or protestantism.)
Then there was a big Catholic-Separatist Civil war in 1847 and now we have consociationalism. In 1980, there was an initiative for the separation of church and state, but it failed. It failed! This is ridiculous to me because since then, church attendance has declined considerably.
Like in the US, churches don't have to pay tax, but citizens and residents of Switzerland, when they register (because as I said in the G post, we're all registered) they can choose to claim a confession and will then pay their tithe - or tax by another name - which sustains the institutions.
So, some cantons are catholic and some are protestant. The only effect from this that I know is the volume of the bells and the number of weekdays that banks are closed in honor of one holiday or another. Though I do know a certain 90 year old who felt the sting of being a calvinist in a catholic canton. Her parents impressed upon her how important it was that she be an especially good girl, because they would be scrutinized as an outsider. She remembers being a 3 years old girl, newly out of diapers and paddling naked in the shallows of the lake that bordered her family's garden. She was spotted and her parents were criticized for her nudity. She so clearly remembers the feeling of being other, but so does her son, who is 30 years younger.