The top court in the Czech Republic has upheld a plan in which the government will give billions of dollars to churches that lost property under the country’s former communist regime.
The Associated Press said the June decision is a big win for churches that had sought compensation since the fall of communism in 1989. The plan calls for 16 religious groups, including Catholics, Protestants and Jews, to receive the equivalent of $3 billion over the next three decades, the AP said. They will also get back 56 percent of their property that is now in state hands, estimated at a total of $3.8 billion.
Examples of property lost include farms, woodlands and buildings that are still controlled by the Czech government. The Catholic Church is expected to get the bulk of the government money and property in the agreement.
World News Group, a Christian media organization, reported that the ruling had been opposed by atheist groups and that the compensation plan is controversial in a country that contains one of Europe’s largest atheist populations.
The Prague Post said the Social Democrats party fought hard against what it called a “handout.” Social Democrat Jan Babor said last year that the plan “is … against the spirit of our Constitution, because a democratic secular state should not tie itself to any church.”