Special Issue "Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 3859

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Bulcsu Bognár
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Communication, Institute of Communication and Media Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, 1111 Budapest, Hungary
Interests: social theory; sociology of religion; sociology of media
Dr. Marta Trzebiatowska
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3QY, UK
Interests: sociology of religion and nonreligion; gender; Catholicism; social theory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The number of nones—individuals who do not associate with any religion—is growing worldwide. While there is now a large body of research concerning the place of the nonreligious in English-speaking countries, most notably North America and the UK, studies of Eastern Europe remain scarce. Meanwhile, surveys show that in countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary, the dominant churches are beginning to lose their authority, and the disconnect between the religious institutions and the worldview and values of the average citizen is most evident in the 18–24 age group.

As nonreligion is notoriously difficult to define, the extant research on Central and Eastern Europe often explores the lives of those at the most extreme end of the spectrum, such as the narrow category of avowed atheists. Extending the scope to include the nonreligious allows for the inclusion of a wider variety of experience of those who would place themselves at different points in the typology of the nonreligious. This is especially important if we wish to include gendered experiences of nonreligion; studies show that openly adopting an atheist identity is socially riskier for women than it is for men. Moreover, city dwellers and the highly educated are more likely to inhabit their nonreligious identity comfortably, away from the scrutiny of their social environment, while those in rural settings will encounter different challenges to their worldview.

The phenomenon of nonreligion in Central and Eastern European region also has its own unique characteristics. The forty-year period of communism fundamentally influenced people’s relationship with the transcendent. The large-scale marginalization of institutional religiosity and the difficulties of living the religious experience resulted in a different structure of religiosity in the post-regime period. In most of the region, either religiosity has become characteristic in its own way, religious worldviews have been firmly marginalized (e.g., in the Czech Republic or East Germany), or the dominance of ecclesiastical religiosity has been preserved (e.g., in Poland). These three directions affect the interpretation of nonreligious reality differently, depending on what nonreligious identities the social space allows. This Special Issue offers an opportunity to interpret these identities and to examine the relationship between the nonreligious and the dominant cultural religion through addressing the following questions:

  • What are the specific features of nonreligiosity in the region where society has been fundamentally secularized and has moved away from the religious worldview in its values?
  • What are the forms of nonreligiosity in countries where religiosity not according to the teaching of the church is characteristic and where a high degree of syncretism is observed in relation to the transcendent?
  • How does nonreligion manifest itself in the cultural contexts where Catholicism dominates public life, and the Catholic Church is an influential voice in political debates which in turn influence private lives?
  • How do nonreligious people define their own worldview?
  • Is there such a thing as nonreligious citizenship in countries characterized by cultural religion?
  • To what extent, if at all, are the nonreligious discriminated against in everyday life, and what strategies do they adopt to function in a religiously homogeneous culture?
  • Relying on spatial sociology, are there any social spheres that offer more space for the nonreligious worldview? Do these spaces appear more in the public or private sphere in the differently religious countries of the region?

We invite papers which focus on the above-listed themes and on the subject of nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe more broadly. We intend to create a comprehensive picture of lived nonreligion in the region. We particularly welcome empirical analyses of the relationship between the nones and the mainstream or minority religious cultures. 

Dr. Bulcsu Bognár
Dr. Marta Trzebiatowska
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • nonreligion
  • Central and Eastern Europe
  • Catholicism
  • everyday nonreligion
  • discrimination
  • gender
  • class
  • politics
  • morality
  • social space

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
In Search of Authenticity: Humanist Weddings in the Polish Context
Religions 2022, 13(7), 631; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070631 - 07 Jul 2022
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Abstract
The post-1989 transformation in Poland entailed not only institutional change, but also an ideational shift. Among other things, this ideational shift gave rise to a growing emphasis on individual autonomy, expressive values, and secularization, which has had an impact on the means of [...] Read more.
The post-1989 transformation in Poland entailed not only institutional change, but also an ideational shift. Among other things, this ideational shift gave rise to a growing emphasis on individual autonomy, expressive values, and secularization, which has had an impact on the means of symbolic communication (e.g., rituals) and prepared the ground for the emergence of humanist marriage ceremonies in Poland. The secularization process has gradually undermined the taken-for-granted character of some religious practices, such as rites of passage. Additionally, with the increased focus on authenticity rather than on accuracy in the usage of some pre-stipulated scripts, social actors often tend to replace “ossified” meanings that are communicated through rituals with new meanings, which are perceived as more relevant. This paper sheds light on the issue of authenticity, which is an important category in studies of symbolic, ritual-like actions. Perceptions of authenticity were recurring themes during interviews conducted with couples who decided on a humanist wedding ceremony in Poland. Interviewees often asserted that they rejected the dominant Catholic rite because they perceived it as inauthentic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
Article
Forms of Non/Religiosity in Slovakia after 1989
Religions 2022, 13(7), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070605 - 29 Jun 2022
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Abstract
This study analyses in detail the dynamics of the development of different types of worldviews (religious and particularly non-religious) in Slovakia. It is based on the results of four censuses along with the European Values Study (EVS) conducted in Slovakia in 1991, 1999, [...] Read more.
This study analyses in detail the dynamics of the development of different types of worldviews (religious and particularly non-religious) in Slovakia. It is based on the results of four censuses along with the European Values Study (EVS) conducted in Slovakia in 1991, 1999, 2008, and 2017. The basic analytical tool is the typological method based on data from the EVS. The results show that in Slovakia, among the large number of possible theoretical types of worldviews, only five are empirically present in an analysable quantity, two of which concern people without religious affiliation. The results show that in this latter group, which has remained around 25% over the long term in Slovakia, the majority are rather indifferent to religion and only about one-fifth of them (4.5% of the total population in 2017) are people who can be considered atheists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
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Article
Secularity as a Point of Reference: Specific Features of a Non-Religious and Secularized Worldview in a Family across Three Generations
Religions 2022, 13(6), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060477 - 25 May 2022
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Abstract
My contribution will focus on secular and non-religious worldviews and will aim to reconstruct secular relationships with the world that develop from lived values and their transmission in the family. I will try to show in detail how a non-religious habitus develops in [...] Read more.
My contribution will focus on secular and non-religious worldviews and will aim to reconstruct secular relationships with the world that develop from lived values and their transmission in the family. I will try to show in detail how a non-religious habitus develops in socialization over several generations, becomes entrenched in later biographical positioning, and shapes how a person relates to the world, including their view of religion. After a brief outline of the religious field in Germany, I will concentrate on a family case whose first generation (grandparents) grew up in the GDR. This family has had no religious socialization or child baptisms for three generations and secularity has become a positive point of reference for how its members justify their own life patterns. For the members of this non-religious family, religion still becomes selectively relevant. Using concrete situations and contexts where the family has contact with religion, I will show how these encounters become a marker for drawing boundaries. In conclusion, I will follow Quack and Schuh’s distinction between “indifference to religiosity” on the one hand, and “indifference to religion” on the other, and argue that indifference to religiosity, but not indifference to religion, can be clearly identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
Article
Being Nonreligious in Croatia: Managing Belonging and Non-Belonging
Religions 2022, 13(5), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050390 - 24 Apr 2022
Viewed by 531
Abstract
Catholicism in the Croatian context has been one of the most powerful sources of collective belonging for centuries. Since the fall of socialism, desecularization tendencies have manifested as homogenization, collectivization, and deprivatization of religion. (Non)religiosity became a contested issue, which not only implied [...] Read more.
Catholicism in the Croatian context has been one of the most powerful sources of collective belonging for centuries. Since the fall of socialism, desecularization tendencies have manifested as homogenization, collectivization, and deprivatization of religion. (Non)religiosity became a contested issue, which not only implied belonging (ethnic, national, historical) but was also highly politicized. This paper aims to explore how living in a society with a dominant collective religion influences the experience of nonreligious people. The conducted research was based on 30 semi-structured interviews with people who self-identify as nonreligious, but at the same time are not members of nonreligious organizations. The obtained data show that some elements of collectivism can push individuals away from religion, but for some nonreligious people, religiosity remains an important identification framework. Keeping a connection with religion is achieved through conformist behaviors or “cherry-picking” elements of religiosity, which are then combined in individually-consistent worldviews. Nonreligious people sometimes feel “left out” and experience their nonreligiosity as lonely and isolating, which they often do not want to pass on to others. This creates a specific position for some nonreligious individuals that is simultaneously “in” and “out” of religion, and challenges the way nonreligiosity is often imagined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
Article
Income Tax Progressivity and Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe: A Case of the Czech Republic
Religions 2022, 13(4), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040358 - 13 Apr 2022
Viewed by 487
Abstract
Our paper focuses on the tax progressivity and nonreligion in central and eastern Europe using an example of the Czech Republic, one of the most atheistic countries in the world. Religion might imply formal affiliation with a certain confession or active church attendance, [...] Read more.
Our paper focuses on the tax progressivity and nonreligion in central and eastern Europe using an example of the Czech Republic, one of the most atheistic countries in the world. Religion might imply formal affiliation with a certain confession or active church attendance, but it might also become a determinant of taxation preferences. We employ ordinal regression analyses to study direct and mediation effects of both church affiliation and church attendance on a representative sample from the Czech Republic (n = 1924, 54.8% female, aged 18–95, M ± SD: 52.0 ± 16.9; 19.4% with higher education) controlling for employment status, social class and socio-demographics. The results suggest that neither church affiliation nor church attendance were related to desired income tax progressivity; social class plaid the most important role. The frequency of church attendance was significantly related to the perceived adequacy of taxation of higher incomes, where the more respondents attended the religious services, the more they believed that the taxes on the rich are too high. However, the churches’ ideas to help the needy were manifested in the preferences for international tax progressivity, where the frequent churchgoers were more inclined to the idea that the rich countries should pay additional taxes to help the poor countries. These controversial results may indicate the rivalrous position of the church and the state in the Czech Republic in terms of taxation of the wealthy. We suggest that under the condition of no church tax, the state taxation of the rich may be viewed as diverting funds, which could otherwise be directed to the church. These results might be of some interest to the state, the church and to the academic researchers alike and significantly contribute to the discussion on specific features of nonreligiosity in central and eastern Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
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Article
Who Criticizes the Clergy in Contemporary Lithuania? A Sociohistorical Analysis of Anticlericalism
Religions 2022, 13(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13010004 - 21 Dec 2021
Viewed by 913
Abstract
This paper analyzes the phenomenon of anticlericalism in contemporary Lithuania, applying a sociohistorical approach. It starts with a discussion on the problem of criticism of religion and anticlericalism in contemporary societies, and particularly Lithuania. The empirical part of the paper provides a statistical [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes the phenomenon of anticlericalism in contemporary Lithuania, applying a sociohistorical approach. It starts with a discussion on the problem of criticism of religion and anticlericalism in contemporary societies, and particularly Lithuania. The empirical part of the paper provides a statistical data analysis of two surveys, conducted in 2012 and 2018. The secondary data analysis showed that age and place of residence of Roman Catholics in Lithuania were statistically meaningful factors for the formation of anticlerical stances. Younger respondents expressed more critical stances towards the clergy, while respondents living in large cities of the country had more relaxed stances towards clergy than those living in small towns and rural areas. Living in a proximity to a Roman Catholic church in rural areas determined the prevalent anticlerical attitudes among the Lithuanian population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonreligion in Central and Eastern Europe)
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