Guest / Limited Access /

Churches in the Czech Republic are challenging a controversial new law that they claim restricts religious activities, comparing it to controls placed on religion under communist rule.

Under the law, government officials have jurisdiction over the opening of places of worship and the establishment of religious communities. The legislation also requires churches to use income from their activities solely for religious—not civil or social—purposes.

The law, which went into effect on January 7, replaces legislation enacted two years after the fall of communist rule in 1989.

Among other things, the law obliges church charities such as the Roman Catholic Caritas to re-register as taxable civic enterprises.

"What we're seeing is a return to the communist era," said Nadeje Mandysova, secretary-general of the Czech Ecumenical Council, which groups 11 Protestant and Orthodox denominations. "We still don't fully understand why such a hostile campaign is being waged against us."

The council was scheduled to meet with Roman Catholic leaders this week to finalize the wording of a joint appeal they plan to lodge with the Constitutional Court by the end of the month, Mandysova said. They will ask the court to declare the law unconstitutional and to indicate changes that would bring it in line with the law.

The new legislation represents the most recent dispute in an ongoing church-government feud. Since the fall of communism in the Czech Republic, churches have demanded that the government return communist-seized church properties and clarify the churches' financial status in this nation where clergy salaries are paid by the state.

Mandysova said the government would be forced to heed the churches' human rights objections so as not ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThere’s No Crying on Social Media!
Subscriber Access Only
There’s No Crying on Social Media!
Young adults are desperate not to let peers see any signs of weakness or failure.
RecommendedWalking with Refugees on the Resurrection Road
Walking with Refugees on the Resurrection Road
Patrick Kingsley’s frontlines account of the global crisis is a gift to concerned Christians.
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickUrban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Urban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Why this 'new spirituality' is really just old-fashioned syncretism.
Christianity Today
Czech Churches Protest Against Law Bringing Religion Under State ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2002

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.