Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bez vyznání - without religious affiliation

These are thousand of such notes in Czech registries and you have probably already seen them. 

Vystoupil z církve katolické k bezvyznání dle přípisu polit. správy v Přešticích 2/8 1926 č. 22844. 

Vystoupil z církve a zůstal bez vyznání, okr. pol. spr. v Plzni dto 24/5 1921 č. 29631. 

Jest bez vyznání dle okres. hejtm. v Rokycanech č. 61899 z 29./12.1921. 
And there are more and more of these notes - and they have one thing in common: "bez vyznání" (without confession or religious affiliation). What does it mean? What exactly is hidden under these two words? And why are these notes in the church registries?  I'll try to answer these questions.

I have already written a blog post about Czechs and their approach to religion. These cases are a bit different, but they also belong among the basic stones of Czech atheism. 

It was allowed since 1872 to become "without religious affiliation", but not too many people left church before 1920. Creation of Czechoslovakia brought completely new situation. Catholic church was not anymore part of government politics - even some of the highest country representatives became atheists or criticized Catholic church for its manners. 

Without religious affiliation didn't mean the people didn't believe in God anymore. They often still believed, but they didn't want to be part of the official church structures. Of course there were people who didn't believe at all and see this as a chance to express their view of the world. But it was minor part of those who became "without religious affiliation". 

All this meant the person just expressed he or she doesn't want to be part of church anymore. Reasons were often connected to the fact he or she didn't agree with Catholic church, but they also weren't satisfied with new churches which were founded after 1920, such as Czechoslovak or Hussite church.

Without religious affiliation also expressed discontinuity of believes which were connected to previous regime - Habsburg monarchy. House of Habsburg was one of the largest representants of Catholic church, its defender and wide-spreader. 

There even existed a book called "Essential guide of citizen without religious affiliation" (available in Czech only) which provided information about possible life situations such person will have to handle. It provided information about marriage, divorce, birth of child (and duties of both parents and child), death and burial and many more things which were previousl covered by the Catholic church. 

I hope this explained situation of those people who decided to choose "without religious affiliation" position. Don't hesitate to ask about anything which is not clear.


  1. When my Great Grandparents came to America, they had already left the Catholic Church. There were rumors, but no one ever gave a clear explanation of why. This is very interesting, and could be the reason my ancestors in that line left. I know my Grandfather disliked the church completely. Thank you Blanka!!!

  2. Roman Catholics in Czechoslovakia:

    1921 8 201 464 (81,97 %)
    1930 8 378 079 (78,49 %)