Religion, Government, and the Czech Republic: It’s complicated.

***First I want to say that I am not here to tell anyone what to think or what to believe.  I am also not attempting to critique any particular religion.  My goal is to inform those who read this of the complicated relationship between religion, government, and the people within the Czech Republic.***

Last Friday we went to a little town outside of Prague called Kutna Hora to see a bone chapel.  The size of the chapel was underwhelming, but the amount of bones in the chapel was astounding!  I took pictures of the story behind the chapel’s creation.

Page one! Long story short, the ground here will not break down the bones, so someone decided to make a chapel out of them.
Page two!

Now some pictures of the hauntingly beautiful bones: 

The creepy and awesome bone chandelier. It’s the first thing you see when you enter.

The Czech Republic has a long and difficult history with the Catholic Church.  The churches, cathedrals, and other christian symbols remain; however, the current population of the Czech Republic is overwhelmingly atheist or agnostic.  My professor Dr. Robbins, an American, told us that they also prefer to not discuss their religious leanings in public.  Czechs do have opinions and beliefs, but because of the strict censorship laws and brutal enforcement of such laws under communism there is still a hesitancy for expression.  Similarly, we were informed, that Czechs do not like to be a part of any conformist organization.  The history of the Catholic Church in this area includes methods of control over Czech peoples lives and livelihood, much like what they experienced under communism.  Czechs learn their history like the back of their hand from the time they are 6 years old, so most Czechs come to the same conclusions.

The Czech perspective is helping me redefine what I think it means to be an American.  (I will not share my new opinions regarding that.)  I will say that immersing myself in another culture has given me a newly calibrated lens with which to view myself and others.  I highly recommend study abroad.  It will change your life!!

Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.