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Recensement - appartenances religieuses

Decline in belonging and steady social importance

A long-term development trend observed in all three of the most populous religious communities has been heading towards a decline in number of their members. The willingness of members to declare an affiliation to a religious communities is decreasing. It is thought that this trend is connected with the diminution of interest of the public in associating in general, which strongly reflects both in religious and non-religious spheres. In terms of attending church services, this downturn is not considerable.
At the same time, however, the activity of said three religious communities in the field of health care, welfare work, culture and education has been extending, so a large proportion of the public not belonging to these religious communities is affected by the activity thereof.
The Czech lands are frequently seen as a predominantly atheistic, or at least irreligious, territory, especially in journalistic and political reflections. However, sociological findings from 2006 and 2007 show that the Czech society is becoming a society with a high degree of individualised and decentralized religiousness.
Some sociologists, for example Professor Tomáš Halík, who obtained the Templeton Prize in 2014, point out a particular feature of the Czech nature, noticeable in many important individuals since the National Revival in the 19th century, which they call "timid godliness". It is religiousness which is not manifested outwardly through pompous gestures, but rather is spirit-oriented.

Surveys conducted by the Czech Statistical Office in 1991, 2001 and 2011

Surveys of 1991 and 2001
According to the survey organized by the State Statistic Office in 2001, approximately one third of inhabitants proclamed their membership in some religious community. However, the data from 2001 statistics must be treated with caution. The questionnaire had only two small columns : it was very easy to fill in the first : “without religion”. The second column, for "believer", held only a small place to fill in the exact name of some church or religious society. 2 % of inhabitants filled in an unexact name.
The filling of the questionnaire was confidential and non-binding. The tables on membership have only relative informative value.
The table below gives a comparison of data for 21 religious communities from these statistics with regard to religion.

Date 03.03.1991 01.03.2001
Non denominational 4,112,864 6,039,991
Roman Catholic Church 4,021,385 2,740,780
Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren 203,996 117,212
Czechoslovak Hussite Church 178,036 99,103
Silesian Evangelical Church A. C. 33,130 14,020
Lutheran Evangelical Church A. C. in the Czech Republic (registered 1995) 0 5,412
Evangelical Church A. C. in the Czech Republic (originally : Slovak) 4,151 14,885
Eastern Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands 19,354 22,968
Religious Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses 14,575 23,162
Church of the Seventh Day Adventists 7,674 9,757
Greek Catholics 7,030 7,675
Christian Congregations 3,017 6,927
Methodist Evangelical Church 2,855 2,694
Church of Brethren (Evangelicals-Congregationalists) 2,759 9,931
Old Catholic Church 2,725 1,605
Union of Baptists 2,544 3,622
Unity of Brethren (Moravian Brethren) 2,269 3,426
Apostolic Church (Pentecostal Church ) 1,485 4,565
Federation of Jewish Communities 1,292 1,515
New Apostolic Church 427 449
Religious Society of Czech Unitarians 365 302
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (recognized 1990) among “others” 1,366
Imprecise answer and others 8,182 196,712
No answer 1,665,617 901,981

Survey of 2011
State statistical survey of 2011 provided information not only regarding ethnicity but also regarding religious affiliation. The census sheet allowed the people, in its section on religion, to provide four different pieces of information regarding their attitude to religion with the following outcome.
Number of respondents :
 stating affiliation with a particular religious community 1,463,560
 claiming allegiance to a faith without stating the affiliation with a particular religious community 705,368
 stating no affiliation with any religious community 3,604,095
 declining to give information on religion 4,662,455

The large number of those who did not provide any information regarding religion casts doubts on the completeness of the numbers in other categories. It can be assumed that a certain part of both religious and irreligious people find it unnecessary to inform the state of their attitude to religion.

According to the Pew Research Center report “Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe” of 10 May 2017, 29% of Czechs believe in God. It is a relatively high number keeping in mind the fact that people do not like to admit that they belong to a minority opinion. A comparison with data from countries in which religious belief is predominant can be misleading and can ultimately yield false conclusions.

Source : Survey of the Czech Statistical Office.

D 16 septembre 2016    AZáboj Horák

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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