The Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia: Survival of a Minority Faith in a Secular Society
This chapter will focus on the fortunes of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia in the aftermath of the collapse of the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1989 and the creation of new nation-states in Prague and Bratislava in 1993. The topic generates a special set of questions stemming from the fact that, not only does the Orthodox Church in the successor states of former Czechoslovakia represent a minority faith existing on the periphery of the post-communist societies, but it does so in the case of the Czech Republic, in one of the most secularized and atheistic countries in the world. Among the topics examined will be the strength of its membership and of its present societal role, its relationship with key governmental institutions, its leadership strife, social conservatism and religious tolerance, the impact of church restitutions, and its position on the evolving schism between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church over the issue of granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Finally, the question of foreign influence or control over this minority Church will also have to be addressed.