In spite of all the country’s beautiful churches and cathedrals, the Czech Republic is one of the least religious countries in Europe with only about 15% of regular church goers. That being the case, I would hardly think Czechs would tune in to any religious media for an entertainment or news source. A recent poll indicated that Czechs trust the military and radio the most, and trust churches the least. Another curious observation is that they trust the police, who ranked third, more than they do television and the Internet. So what are the churches in the Czech Republic to do if they want to repair their image, to try to gain back the people’s trust? There’s the old fashioned way of doing it: sending missionaries around the country to try and gain converts. Or, they could use social media.
I came across one article that caught my eye about the Czech Republic: how Cardinal Dominik Duka praised Czezh TV employees “who managed to address and unite the nation in critical times and did not fear to defend the truth” during a divide service for the media celebrated in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. Duka, Prague Archbishop and primate of the Czech Catholic Church, said that the Czech TV employees stood strong against the opposition and upheld the truth during the Prague Spring and Velvet Revolution. He also warned them against the danger “to turn the truth into an ideological tool”, and asked the Czech Television to remain true.The service was part of CTV’s 60th anniversary celebration.
This begs the question if religion has any faith in media, and/or social media. Duka appears to have acknowledged the fact that the media can bend stories and present the ‘truth’ but with an angle by insisting that the truth should be reported. Churches in the past have televised their masses, making live-masses and religious based shows. However, some of these shows have been condemned because mass is usually with the church’s community. Thus these shows came with the title some have called it, “the mass for shut-ins”. Religion is often a hot topic with the news, either with other religions fighting or religions butting heads with their own people about certain ideas. The Czech Republic is an example of this with the Czech law mandating the return of the churches’ property that was confiscated by the communist regime in the past. Many people are against this, and have expressed that by giving the lands back it will further decrease church attendance.
I feel that with the appearance of Duka on television, there was only a slight increase in trust/popularity. After all, television is behind the military, radio, and police in terms of trust. I feel the best way to improve the church’s reputation here in the Czech Republic is to reach out to the younger generation via social media. The younger generation, while still not as religious, are showing signs of being more moral on issues such as infidelity. They believe in more monogamous relationships than older generations, who in the past was not such a big deal. Thus, with an audience that has the potential to change the church’s reputation, I feel the best way to reach them is through social media. The Pope has a twitter account, and despite some tweets being considered controversial, at least he is reaching out to a large following via SM. The Czech Republic has a large Facebook userbase, so if churches took to Facebook the way younger Czechs have, the could potentially hear feedback more efficiently, respond to criticisms, and maybe gain the people’s trust again.