The Czech Republic has some of the highest numbers of atheists, agnostics, and people with religious indifference of any nation in the world. Before the second half of the 20th Century, Christianity, more specifically the Roman Catholic Church, dominated the country. Since then, the state religious affiliations have declined. Today, many people in the Czech Republic do not identify with any religion. Research indicates that by 2050, religion in the Czech Republic might be extinct due to the country's increasing indifference towards religion. Here is a look of the biggest religious (or in this case, irreligious) groups in the country.
Atheism and Agnosticism
Around 34.5% of the Czech Republic's residents claim no religion, and a further 44.7% are undeclared. A 2012 Euro barometer poll on religiosity indicated that 37% of the population was Agnostic or nonbelievers. This count is the highest in the European Union. Atheists date way back to the 20th Century under the Hapsburg monarchy. More than 100 years ago, the Catholic pope rejected the Czech requests to have Mass delivered in the native Czech language and not Latin. This refusal to worship in their language resulted to a massive implant of atheist. When the Catholic Church lost power and influence, the Communist rule, reinforced the opposition against the church.
Roman Catholic Christianity
Roman Catholicism was once the primary religion in the country. The history of the religion dates back to the 18th and 19th Centuries when the locals were forced to convert to the faith under the Hapsburg rule. Before the 19th Century, 96% of the population still practiced Roman Catholicism. After World War I a decline of adherents to the faith intensified in the era of Czechoslovak unification under a communist regime when the church property was confiscated. Afterward, the faith still had many followers but the first half of 22nd Century might see an extinction of the religion in the country.
Evangelical Christian Church of Czech Brethren
Protestantism was the main religion of Czech Republic until the forced conversion under the Hapsburg Monarchy's rule. After the communist regime, the number of evangelical churches and believers were still minimal. In 1918 the country gained independence from Hapsburg rule, and there was a massive religious change. Since then, Protestant Czechs have become almost extinct, as the majority of the people forced to Roman Catholicism left the church and did not affiliate with any religion. Today, the Evangelical churches have a population of around less than 1% (51,916).
The Czechoslovak Hussite Christian Church
A few from the original Hussite movement survived into the 20th Century and beyond. Even though some of the ex-Catholics joined the newly formed liberal denomination, the majority simply became unaffiliated. However, the religion was introduced in the Republic in the 15th Century under the works of pioneer reformers who wanted to revitalize religion. The members wanted to “correct” the failings of the Catholic Church but failure to have an ancestral church as the Catholics do reduced the movement attachment to the people. There were also converts from Judaism and Orthodox churches which made the religion more prominent in the country than in any other European nation. Today, the faith has less than 1% (39,276).
Less than 1% (6,817) of the population are registered Buddhists. The Vietnamese ethnic minority makes up most of the Buddhist community in the country, with the majority of them living in Prague and Cheb. There are also Korean Buddhists in Prague and Brno. The ethnic Buddhist of Czech follows Tibetan Buddhism, and they dwell mostly in Nyingma and Kagy.
The Islamic following in the Czech Republic is smaller than in any other nation in the European Union. The immigrant population is small and Muslims account for only less than 1% (~4,000) of the total population.
Undeclared and Unaffiliated Persons
Censuses taken in the country indicate that more than half of the Czech Republic's population have no religious beliefs. After years of forced Roman Catholicism, the people of Czech decided that religion is no longer important. The communist rule facilitated the belief after pointing to the people on the failures of the Catholic Church. The communist era liberated the people from the hold of the church and today a majority of citizens do not wish to identify with any religion. They prefer to remain unattached to Christianity, Islamic, Buddhism, or any other religion.
Future of Religion in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has a rich traditional religious history, but the general citizenry does not seem very interested in any form of organized religion in the 21st Century. The country is the most secular country in the world with censuses and sociological reviews and surveys indicating that most of the people have no religious affiliations. Research show that the higher the education among the people the less they are inclined to religion. There is an apparent lack of interest in Christianity due to the increased popularity of invisible or alternative religion, a belief in magic. Also, the revised legacy of the country nationalism has contributed to the reduced religious affiliations. Catholicism replaced the "true" religion of Protestantism and is thus seen as an Austria import. Even so, the Constitution respects and protects religious groups in the country.