Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Frederick D. Weil
I explore the relationship between religious affiliation and support for democratic values in postcommunist societies. Using the Tocquevillian idea of the institutional learning of democratic values within civil society, I examine three post-transition countries of Eastern Europe for evidence that the churches preserved and promoted democratic values during the years of Soviet regime control. Comparative historical examination of the relationship between the institutional churches and the state during the years of communist regime control demonstrate how the churches worked to preserve and promote democratic values. In those countries where the churches were marginalized and excluded from power by the state (such as Poland and East Germany) church elites worked to promote the reemergence of civil society. But where the churches were able to maintain a base of power through cooperation with the communist regime (Hungary) church elites were less involved in the democratic transformation process. Survey data on democratic attitudes in Poland, Hungary, and eastern Germany in the immediate post-transition period of 1990-1992 demonstrate that church attenders in these societies, similar to church attenders in western Germany, report higher levels of support for democratic values than non-attenders. Church attendance is strongly related to democratic values of confidence and trust in institutions, as well as support for a democratic form of government. Church attenders demonstrate more support for democratic values in societies where the church had an instrumental role in the recreation of civil society (Poland and eastern Germany) than they do in Hungary, where the church cooperated with the regime and did little to promote democratic values. Some evidence of optimism, trust, and efficacy among church attenders in these post-transition societies is also attributed to the church's active participation in the transition.
Gautier, Mary L., "The Church in Post-Transition Societies: Evidence From Eastern Europe." (1995). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 6100.