Religion’s Divisive Re-Emergence in Our Public Space

Identity Politics and Quasi-Religious Symbols in Central Europe

2 February 2021

Jiří Schneider

Senior Fellow

Religious ideas and influences will continue to interfere in the region’s secular politics. Instead of letting religion be claimed by nationalist conservatives in Central Europe, we should seek to understand its re-emergence and be guarded against religion used as an ideology for power.

Having experienced Poland’s unequivocal drive to the West after the fall of the Iron Curtain, an outside observer must be shocked how Archbishop of Kraków, Marek Jędraszewski, describes the West nowadays: In his sermon last November, he claimed that the West imposes a “neo-Marxist vision of a new order that rejects God’s kingdom”.

At the same time, the Polish Constitutional Court’s ruling de-facto abortion ban provoked street protests with a sharp anti-church spin. Religion has become a divisive element not only in Poland. What happened?

A potential for tension between religion and politics stems from the fact that they both ‘draw on’ core human values and motivations. Politics as a system of authoritative allocation of values in society (David Easton) and religion as a system of beliefs and rituals fostering society as a moral community (Émile Durkheim).


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Jiří Schneider

Senior Fellow

Visegrad Insight Senior Fellow. A former diplomat, in May 2021 was elected Synodal Curator (Lay Moderator) of The Evangelical Church of The Czech Brethren. Following the democratic changes in 1989, he was elected to the Czechoslovak Parliament in 1990 and 1992. After the split of Czechoslovakia, he joined the Foreign Ministry as the head of policy planning. He also served as the Czech Ambassador to Israel (1995-1998) and most prominently as the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic (2010-2014). He took direct part in the development of think-tanks and NGO platforms as a Program Director at the Prague Security Studies Institute (2005-2010) and as the Executive Director of Aspen Institute Central Europe (2016-2020).


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