Number of Czech church-goers falling due to generational exchange

Prague, Czech Republic - A generational exchange and the churches' inability to address young people are behind the plummeting number of church-goers as recorded in the 2011 population census, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka said Tuesday.

Besides, the census has revealed that the general public is reluctant to adhere to any institutions, including churches, Duka said.

In the previous, 2001 census, a church was claimed by almost 3.3 million Czech, but the figure fell to a mere 1.5 million in the 2011 census.

"A huge crisis and rejection of institutions is obvious. This relates to all institutions," Duka said, reacting to the statistical figure that over 700,000 Czechs believe "in something," but do not claim any church.

Duka said belief "in something" could not be interpreted as atheism.

Rather, it bears witness to that "our rhetoric on God does not reflect our contemporary situation," he added.

On the other hand, almost everyone claims this or that church abroad, but the people do not necessarily believe in anything, Duka said.

"It is a generational problem," Duka said, adding that the church was unable to address the young.

The view was confirmed by sociologist Petr Soukup, from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University.

Soukup said there was one-half of believers among those born in the 1950s, while it was one-fifth among those born in the 1970s.

"There was a certain, but not dramatic fall," Soukup said.

Soukup said the falling number of church-goers was connected with the growth in the "somethingism" under which people believe not in a church, but in "something."

"The influence of Oriental religions and cults is on the rise," Soukup said.

Some 14 percent of Czechs, or 1.47 million, claimed a church or religious society in the March 2011 census.

In 2001, it was almost one-third, or 3.29 million.

The number of those who are reluctant to speak about their faiths has surged. The information was denied by roughly 902,000 Czechs in 2001, compared with over 4.77 million a year ago.

The biggest number, or 1.1 million inhabitants, claimed the Catholic Church, followed by the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (51,936) and the Czechoslovak Hussite Church (39,276) in the latest census.

Some 15,070 people, most of them in Prague, claimed the moral values of the Jedi knights from the Star Wars film.

There were 1,943 Muslims, 2,632 Buddhists, 675 followers of the Hare Krishna movement and 374 members of the Church of Scientology in the Czech Republic in 2011.