History, Memory, and Religion in the Czech Lands

  • Abstract:

    The paper deals with the role of religion in the process of defining Czech national identity. Its theoretical background is based on the combination of K. Dobbelaere’s concept of secularization with the sociopolitical conflict model as defined by P. S. Gorski. The role of religious ideas, practices and institutions is transformed in the process of societal modernization and functional differentiation. New, non-religious worldviews are developed. In the process of mutual interaction of secular worldviews with religion, religious elements become integral part of discourses within the developing sub-systems of politics, education, economics, etc. It leads to the situation of persisting importance of religious ideas at the societal level, where religious phenomena continue to be discussed. The concepts of the Czech national identity incorporate religious elements under the conditions of religious monopoly in the Empire of Austria-Hungary. The anti-clerical or anti-Catholic concepts of national history appear at the societal level, while people tend to embrace the dominant form of religion connected to the state system at the individual level. Individual religious affiliation reveals increasing complexity with the end of religious monopoly, with the creation of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 and under the situation of religious pluralism. At the individual level the Roman Catholic Church continues to dominate religious life of the Czechs, nevertheless the declared church membership gradually decreases. Since religious phenomena have become incorporated into secular worldviews, such as into the concepts of national identity, religion persists at the societal level.