Predominant Religious Beliefs in Poland
For centuries, Catholicism had dominated many aspects of Polish life and continued to be the largest faith in the country. Poland is widely a religious country and has instituted the right to freedom of religion. Regarding Poland’s religious tolerance, there has been a proliferation of Protestant Churches across the country. An increasing number of Atheists and Agnostics have also been witnessed in Poland. The major religious beliefs include
Roman Christian Catholic
Roman Catholic boasts an estimated 33,382,861 adherents in modern day Poland. The origin of Christianity in Poland can be traced back to as early as 966 AD, under the ruler Mieszko I. Roman Catholic enjoyed prominence along other religions until World War II and the Communism era altered the religious composition of Poland.
Jews were killed during the Nazi German Holocaust while other smaller denominations experienced a decline in numbers during the war. Roman Catholic was heavily suppressed during the communist period as well. A change in the Communist’s Party in 1956 strengthened the religion’s position in Poland. The Roman Catholic Church would later play a pivotal role in the fall of communism in Poland. The appointment of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II in 1978 further strengthened the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. The Pope is credited with major contributions to the events leading to the eventual toppling of Communism. The religion became synonymous with anti-Communism in 1980’s and amassed a huge following. The Church was granted legal right to govern its hospitals, its University in Lublin and numerous schools in 1989.
Nearly 90% of Poles profess to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Reforms in the Church created territorial divisions, and there are 41 dioceses in Poland today. The religion is studied as an optional subject in school. Although devotion by Roman Catholics in Poland has been decreasing, Poland is one of the countries in Europe with a high rate of religious observance.
Atheists in Poland regard Kazimierz as the founder of Atheism. His work was especially celebrated in a procession of Atheists in Poland in 2014. The rise of Atheism mainly gained momentum after the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 who was considered to be the most influential religious leader in Poland. Majority of Atheists and Agnostics in Poland view the Roman Catholic Church as having a lot of influence in matters of the state. The view that the Church should be separate from the state is fueling, in part, the rise of Secularism in Poland. The Roman Catholic Church has been increasingly vocal on subjects such as divorce, in vitro fertilization and abortion, which some of the non-religious groups feel should be an individual choice. An estimated 1,924,198 adherents are atheists or agnostic in modern day Poland.
Eastern Orthodox Christian
Orthodox Christian boasts an estimated 504,150 followers in Poland. Orthodoxy was introduced to ancient Poland in the 9th century through Byzantine and Methodist. Most of the Orthodox communities were in the Ukrainian and Belarusian territories. These territories, before Poland’s independence, were under the Moscow Patriarchate. The Orthodox communities present in independent Poland began their quest to attain autocephaly. The efforts were greatly opposed by the Moscow Patriarchate. Conflicts with the Roman Catholics were evident in the 1930s. These conflicts resulted in a 1938 decree, which gave Orthodox clergy equal legal rights as the clergy of other religions.
The Orthodox Church in Poland has been thriving since it attained autocephaly. There are seven dioceses and 11 monasteries across Poland. The religion plays an active role in most Churches’ associations.
An estimated 145,600 people in Poland are Protestants. The dominant Protestant Christian beliefs are Evangelical-Augsburg Church, Pentecostal Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Baptist Union of Poland. Protestant Christian in Poland can be traced to the wave of reformation that took root in the 15th century. The Lutheran congregation was one of the first Protestant groups to emerge. Counter-reformation activities by the Catholic Church, however, re-established the Catholic dominance in Poland. Protestant Churches such as the Pentecostal Church appeared in modern day Poland in the 20th century. Poland has a long history of religious tolerance, and there are numerous churches and associations affiliated to Protestant Christians.
Other predominant religious groups in Poland include Sunni Islam which has an estimated 30,000 adherents and Judaism with 20,000 followers. The Roman Catholic Church in Poland has been decreasing in popularity in the recent years. The decline in popularity is attributed to the stressful doctrines given by the Church on moral issues rather than social problems such as the exclusion of Poland from Europe. The younger population in Poland is the most inclined to secularism and atheism.
Predominant Religious Beliefs In Poland
|Rank||Belief System||Estimated Adherents In Present-Day Poland|
|1||Roman Catholic Christian||33,382,861|
|2||Atheist or Agnostic||1,924,198|
|3||Eastern Orthodox Christian||504,150|