The Czech Republic the Most Secular Country in the Region


According to a recent Pew Research Survey, about seven-in-ten Czechs (72%) do not identify with a religious group, including 46% who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” and an additional 25% who say “atheist” describes their religious identity. When it comes to religious belief — as opposed to religious identity — 66% of Czechs say they do not believe in God, compared with just 29% who do. In the U.S., for example, a majority of religiously unaffiliated adults — 61% — say they believe in God.

Those results are in contrast to other Central and Eastern European countries where the vast majority of adults identify with a religious group and believe in God. The only surveyed country besides the Czech Republic where more than a quarter of people are unaffiliated is Estonia (45%). In all other countries that were the subject of survey (18), belief in God is widespread, with a median of 86%.

The Czech Republic has long had a large unaffiliated population, and scholars have cited centuries’ worth of historical reasons for this. In fact, 64% of Czech adults in the Center’s recent survey say they were raised without a religious affiliation. 29% of Czech adults who were raised in a religious group (largely Catholicism) are now unaffiliated, a far higher rate of disaffiliation than the regional median of 3%.

We can see that a majority of religiously unaffiliated adults also have less-conservative social views and to participate in fewer religious activities compared with its neighbors. For example, Czechs have among the highest levels of support for legal abortion (84%) and same-sex marriage (65%) in the region. Similarly, they are the most likely to say they never attend religious services (55%) or pray (68%).

The nation’s history seems to have a great influence on religion.

Anticlericalism surged in the years of Czech independence after World War I, with the country’s Catholic population declining by an estimated 1.5 million people, half of whom did not join another denomination. After World War II, the Soviet-influenced regime, which was officially atheist, furthered this disaffiliation.

Openness to religion briefly spiked after the fall of communism, though evidence suggests this may have been mostly a political statement against the communist regime, and since the early 1990s, the share of Czechs who say they have a religious affiliation has declined.

Photo Credits: Daily Mail

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