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The Swiss Brethren were a group of radical evangelical reformers who initially followed Ulrich Zwingli of Zürich, but later started the movement now known as Anabaptism. In 1525, Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and others formed a new group, which rejected infant baptism and preached what the Brethren claimed was true Christianity. As the movement spread beyond Zürich and throughout Switzerland, its followers became known as the Swiss Brethren.

The Swiss Brethren felt Zwingli's reforms were not moving fast enough. Rejection of infant baptism distinguished the Swiss Brethren from other reformers. Based on Sola Scriptura, the Swiss Brethren declared that since the Bible does not mention infant baptism, it should not be practiced by the church. This was subsequently refuted by Ulrich Zwingli. Consequently, there was a public dispute, in which the council affirmed Zwingli's position. This crystallized the Swiss Brethren and resulted in their persecution by all other reformers as well as the Catholic Church.

Because of persecution by the authorities, many of these Anabaptists moved from Switzerland to neighboring countries. The Swiss Brethren became known as Mennonites after the division of 1693, a disagreement between the Jacob Amman and Hans Reist groups. Many of the Mennonites in France, Southern Germany, the Netherlands and North America, as well as most Amish descend from the Swiss Brethren.

Today's Swiss Mennonite Conference can be traced to the Swiss Brethren.


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