Most Czechs Don't Believe in God, Souls or Heaven: Pew

The Czech Republic: An Atheistic Anomaly in Eastern Europe, Where Less Than a Third Believe in God


Czech Republic
Church of Mother of God before Týn in Prague, Czech Republic, 2007. |

The Pew Research Center reports in a new analysis that the Czech Republic stands as an atheistic anomaly in Eastern and Central Europe, with most Czechs rejecting the belief in God, souls and Heaven.

The analysis, posted on Monday, looked at statistics from a Pew survey in May which found that only 29 percent of Czechs say they believe in God, while 66 percent do not.

The survey, which measured responses to religious questions in 18 countries in the region, found that a strong majority, with a median of 86 percent, expressed a belief in God.

Some nations, such as Georgia, Armenia, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, and Greece, had over 90 percent belief in God.

Czechs were more likely to believe in the existence of the soul, at 44 percent, though that was much lower than the regional median of 73 percent.

Furthermore, only 27 percent of Czechs say they believe in Heaven, and 19 percent said they believe in Hell.

"The Czech Republic has long had a large unaffiliated population, and scholars have cited centuries' worth of historical reasons for this. In fact, 64 percent of Czech adults in Pew's recent survey say they were raised without a religious affiliation," the center added.

"And another Pew Research Center report projects that the country will remain largely unaffiliated for the foreseeable future, as reflected in the survey's finding that 79 percent of Czech parents are raising their children unaffiliated."

When it comes to social views, the Czech population was much less likely to adopt conservative positions. As much as 84 percent of Czechs backed legal abortion, with another 65 percent approving of gay marriage, which was among the highest levels in the region.

Pew's survey back in May found that the majority of Central and Eastern European nations have embraced religious belief following the fall of the Soviet Union and atheistic Communist regimes.

Most Eastern and Central European nations continue having strong Orthodox Christian or Roman Catholic majorities, though the survey found that a median of only 10 percent of Orthodox Christians in the region attend church on a regular basis.

Christianity has been experiencing dramatic setbacks in Western Europe, however.

The Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society noted back in May that for the first time ever, the United Kingdom's nonreligious population is now bigger than its combined Christian one, with 26 believers abandoning the faith for every atheist or agnostic who decides to become a Christian.

"This has been a consistent finding of polls, social surveys, and censuses over the past several decades. In fact, the rise of the nonreligious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century," wrote at the time Stephen Bullivant, professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion and director of the Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society at St. Mary's University.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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