czech republic missionaries

the czech republic

Brief information about the Czech Republic including a map. Read about the Czech Republic’s religious and ethnic make-up, and the state of Christianity and other religions.

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Shop window in Cesky Krumlov

Czech Factoids!

Ever wondered what it's really like to live here? See our info page Living in the Czech Republic.

English Teachers Wanted!
Interested in serving God and teaching English in the beautiful Czech Republic? Read More...

Czech Republic? Where’s that?

Once upon a time, most people thought of Czechoslovakia as being in Eastern Europe. Part of the reason, no doubt, was that because of its communist rule it was part of the Eastern Bloc.

Map of Europe showing Czech Republic, circledBut if you look at the map to the right, the Czech Republic is right slap bang in the centre of Europe — no further east than Austria which is right below it, and nestled into East Germany on its western border.

In fact, since medieval times it has been considered a crossroads in the middle of Europe — with trade routes running right through it in various directions, and plenty of armies doing the same on numerous occasions! The country tended to do rather well out of this, as you might imagine (out of the trade routes, not the armies!).

So these days it’s usually referred to as being in Central Europe, and since the 1st of May 2004 it has been a member of the European Union (EU). As yet, the currency has not changed to the Euro — the currency of the Czech Republic is (still) the Crown (koruna).

The Czechs have a very proud and interesting history, tied up with Austro-Hungarian empires and the like, and to find out more we suggest you look up here and here (since we’re not ancient historians, these guys will do a better job than we will!).

What grabs us though, is the more recent 20th Century history. Which leads us nicely on to the next question:

Isn’t that Czechoslovakia? [umm... nope!]

As of 1993 (that’s well over a decade now, folks!) the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which for 50-odd years were joined as Czechoslovakia under the Communists, had an amicable split. The Czech side had always been a bit better off, and government for the whole of Czechoslovakia had been in Prague on the Czech side, so the Slovakians hadn’t been all that happy with the situation anyway.

Just 4 years before the split, in 1989, the people of Czechoslovakia ousted their Communist leaders in a bloodless “Revolution”, known as the Velvet Revolution. What amazing years they were, as one by one the former communist regimes fell! It’s easy to remember the fall of the Berlin wall, but Germany wasn’t the only place to see radical change at the time.



Czech Republic Facts & Figures

Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov from castle
Land Area 78,864 square km (cf. UK: 244,100 sq km, France: 543,965 sq km)
Capital Prague, population 1.2 million
Total Population 10.2 million
Czech origin 9.492 million
Slovak origin 314,000
Polish origin 59,000
Gypsy origin 300,000
German origin 50,000
Chinese origin 3,000
Jewish origin 3,000
Politics Multi-party presidential democracy, member of the EU since May 2004.

Links to travel websites, tourist info etc can be found on our links page.

Aren’t they all Catholic there? Or still Communist/Atheist? And what happened to the Christians who survived Communism?

There certainly are a lot of Catholics, and most towns seem to have a Catholic church, but from what we have heard, the Czech Catholic church is mostly very traditional, not evangelical, and rapidly “greying”. There are some notable exceptions though — even in 2003 one of the translators at the English Camp had been brought to Christ through an Evangelical Catholic group.

Communism and Atheism though have been a potent combination in enslaving the minds of Czech people. A regime that preached “THERE IS NO GOD” and persecuted Christians relentlessly has fostered in an already proud and independent people the notion that they need only rely on themselves. That there’s definitely nothing else “up there”. That religion is for other, weaker, people.

In much of the western world, many people are professing Christians (say that they are Christians), but practically speaking live their lives as if there is no God. AroundCharles Bridge - Karluv Most 45% of Czechs, on the other hand, are professing atheists. This presents quite different challenges in evangelism. See here for interesting info on religion during the communist era.

Christianity in the Czech lands actually has quite a proud history too! The major figure is named Jan Hus (John Huss), who was around some time before the Reformation (he was active in the very early 15th century). There’s a denomination that bears his name (The Hussite Church), which unfortunately seems to have lost much of Huss’s zeal...

Other denominations too managed to survive Communism by bunkering down and keeping their heads below the parapet. There are several denominations with the word “Bratrska” in their name, which literally means “Brothers” or “Brethren”, though they are unrelated to the Open or Closed Brethren church in other countries.

It is humbling and inspiring to meet with Christians, members of any of the denominations mentioned above, who have kept their faith through such hardships and persecution. We are thrilled that Operation Mobilisation seeks to build up and equip existing churches in the countries in which it serves, rather than to just start up new ones.

Religious Facts & Figures of the Czech Republic

Jewish Cemetary in Prague
Jewish Cemetary, Prague

The figures below give an overall indication of the state of religion in the Czech Republic. Because, however, of the wide differences in religious affiliation between different areas of the country (eg Moravia vs. South Bohemia), some areas in fact have far less evangelical Christian presence than might be imagined from the figures below.

For example, recent surveys in South Bohemia (in the south west of the country, regional capital Ceske Budejovice, where OM Czech is based) show an evangelical Christian population of a mere 0.20%, one fifth of one percent of the population.

It is said that South Bohemia is a “White Spot”: if you put a black dot on a map wherever there is a church, South Bohemia is left almost completely white. In Ceske Budejovice, a city of some 120,000 people, the combined attendance in all 6 of the Protestant churches is in the order of 200 people.

Religious Groupings Proportion of Population
Christian 53.22%
Non-Religious [atheist] 45.02%
Other 1.50%
Muslem 0.20%
Baha’i 0.03%
Jewish 0.02%
Buddhist 0.01%

Church Members Members + Affiliates
Roman Catholic 3,500,000 3,500,000
Hussite 118,881 170,000
Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren 150,371 150,371
Silesian Evangelical (Lutheran) 27,000 48,000
Orthodox 20,000 35,000
Jehovah’s Witnesses 17,500 28,000
Seventh Day Adventist 8,000 15,200
Uniate Catholic 8,770 12,200
Congregational 4,500 8,325
Moravian Church of Brethren 2,400 4,800
Christian Fellowship Prague 2,400 4,800
Pentecostal 2,000 4,400
Slovak Evangelical 4,200 4,200
Evangelical Free 1,640 4,100
Baptist Union 2,500 4,000
Church of the Brethren 2,000 4,000
Other Denominations [29] 12,139 22,038

All figures as supplied by Operation World, ©2001 Patrick Johnstone. Figures in this edition of Operation World were collated between 1996 and 2001.

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