Edited by Peter Cumper and Tom Lewis
Chapter 11: Law, religion and belief in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland
This chapter will examine the issue of religious freedom in three states in Central and Eastern Europe: Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. While relations are generally good between the peoples and governments of these three nations, there are significant differences between them in terms of religious belief and affiliation. For example, both Slovakia and Poland are often described as being Roman Catholic countries, while the Czech Republic, with which Slovakia formed a single state from 1918 to 1993 (except for a short break during World War II), is generally considered as being one of Europe’s most atheistic countries. In examining these three nations, it is important to bear in mind the impact of Communism in the last century, given that Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland were all swallowed up by the USSR in the aftermath of World War II. Such was the impact of Communism that even today, 20 years after its demise, its legacy still continues to haunt these nations, as well as other young democracies in the region. In particular, the fall of Communism generated a wave of national and nationalist feeling that, perhaps most notably in recent decades, has led to allegations of mass murder and genocide in the Balkans.
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