This paper examines the role of religious denomination for human capital formation. We employ a unique data set which covers, inter alia, information on numerous measures of school inputs in 169 Swiss districts for the years 1871/72, 1881/82 and 1894/95, marks from pedagogical examinations of conscripts (1875-1903), and results from political referenda to capture conservative or progressive values in addition to the cultural characteristics language and religion. Catholic districts show on average significantly lower educational performance than Protestant districts. However, accounting for other sociocultural characteristics qualifies the role of religion for educational production. The evidence suggests that Catholicism is harmful only in a conservative milieu. We also exploit information on absenteeism of pupils from school to separate provision of schooling from use of schooling.