RELIGION AND POLITICS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Czechs are among Europe’s most ardent atheists, yet Czech fortune
tellers and psychics earn more money than trained psychologists, said
Daniel Raus, a senior reporter for „Cesky
Czech national radio.
they might not admit it, Czechs are actually quite religious, Raus
argued. They simply reject certain expressions of religion that have
historically held sway.
result is a nation of the most superstitious atheists in central
Europe. Recent studies found that fully 50% of Czechs are “very
superstitious”. No other nation in the region had even a third
of its population in this category. Austria, Germany and Switzerland
were closest, with 32%, 30% and 23% respectively.
speaking, we can say that the Czechs are a unique and very modern
example of the old G. K. Chesterton adage: ‘When people stop
believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they
believe in anything,’” Raus observed.
thing Czechs are not so quick to believe in, however, is politics.
Political activity and affiliations in the Czech Republic are very
low, Raus noted. This is remarkable in light of the social and
political upheaval the country has gone through since the fall of
suggests that low involvement in politics results from Czechs’
suspicions about their leaders. He argued that these paralyzing
political and religious suspicions are in fact two sides of the same
Czech cultural coin: a fear of social mobilization.
Czech mentality is not to get too involved, especially in organized
initiatives,” Raus revealed. “If you get too involved,
you get burned. The Czechs want to be independent, they want to have
their own view of everything and tend to be very individualistic.”
media capitalize on this attitude with tabloid-style content,
according to Raus. Nudity is common on the front pages of print
media. If readers bother to look inside, they are likely to encounter
reports about religious and political scandal. The most successful
private television company, Nova, has taken this approach as well
with the “Red News”, which is famous for its female
reporters reading the news while removing their clothing.
frivolous nature of Czech news is one of the inheritances of
communism, Raus added. Many journalists working today were trained
under communism, which punished independence and rewarded submission.
This created modern media that are politically passive and
susceptible to the Czech Republic’s pervasive corruption.
spite of the shortcomings, Raus remains hopeful about Czech media,
especially his field of radio. He says that Czech media are more
stable than media in other post-communist societies. Raus has also
earned great liberties to bring a serious perspective on religion to
Czech national radio, a top-rated network. Greater reporting
opportunities have allowed him to paint a richer picture of faith, a
task he takes up gladly.
here have to start persuading people that faith is more than an
official Church structure and institution,” Raus said. “The
good sign is that most of the Christian activities that go beyond the
Church walls earn a lot of respect.”
in the media can do more good than ever before, Raus says, but only
if they master the craft of journalism. With an abundance of
suspicion aimed at organized religion and with a lack of outlets for
reporting on religion, preparation and excellence become paramount
for the next generation of Christian reporters.
says his biggest problem is not his budget or resistance from his
supervisors. It’s the lack of Christians equipped to flourish
in the media spotlight.
ago we used to pray for Christians in the media,” Raus
concluded, “Today we pray for Christian professionals in the