Religion and Politics in the Czech Republic: The Roman Catholic Church and the State

Jakub Havlíček, Dušan Lužný


The objective of this paper consists in describing and analyzing the position of organized, institutionalized religions in the Czech Republic. It focuses on the role of organized religion in the public sphere of the Czech society, and it pays particular attention to the role of the Roman Catholic Church. The principal aim of this paper consists in describing the secularization in the Czech society, both on the micro (individual level of secularization), and the macro level (societal level of secularization). The juxtaposition of the two levels reveals a discrepancy: the individual level of secularization may be considered relatively high, whereas religion persists on the societal level and comes to be publically discussed on several occasions. The juxtaposition of the two levels of secularization is based on the theory by Karel Dobbelaere. It is based on Dobbelaere’s thesis on the need to distinguish the diversity of the processes connected to secularization on various levels of the society. The paper aims to provide explanatory theoretical framework for the seemingly paradoxical situation when religion continues to play a non-negligible role within the highly secularized Czech society on the societal level.

The description of the individual level of secularization in the Czech Republic in this paper is based on the recent censuses carried out by the Czech Statistical Office. The available statistical data reveal a high level of individual secularity within the Czech society: the indicators of religiosity in relation to the organized forms of religion (religious proclamation, religious affiliation and church attendance) are decreasing. Nevertheless, organized religion continues to influence the public sphere of the Czech society, as the cases of the legal fight over the ownership of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague and the Church Property Restitution Bill reveal.

The results of the analysis are discussed in relation to the concept of secularization and to the concept of collective memory.

The concept of secularization explains the tendencies towards separation of the state and religion and also the decrease of the importance of religion on the individual level. The concept of collective memory provides an explanation for the attempts of the secular state to preserve and strengthen the role of religion.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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