A group of MPs thinks there might be something missing from Parliament: a chapel for saying prayers.
Since the parliamentary elections in 2010, MPs of the newly formed conservative right-wing party TOP 09, including TOP 09 MP group leader Petr Gazdík, have been mulling over this idea. Now that idea seems to be gaining momentum. In a country that is noted for being one of the most secular in the world - with just 13 percent of the population expressing a religious affiliation - the proposal does not come without controversy.
(source Prague Post)
"As mayor I got used to popping to a nearby church before meetings that called for challenging decision making, since mental hygiene is immensely useful and helps make the right decision," said Gazdík, a practicing Catholic.
Some Czech MPs have regular prayer breakfast meetings on the first Thursday of each month, where available preachers give sermons or advice. In the United States, Congress houses a chaplain's office. The chaplain officially opens each Senate session and is available to lawmakers for counseling. On the other hand, France's secular constitution prevents any religious activity from taking place within Parliament or parliamentary proceedings.
Gazdík said his idea was inspired by, among other things, a visit to the German Bundestag, where there is a chapel.
While Gazdík acknowledges there are a number of churches a few steps from Parliament, he said most are either full of tourists or closed during most hours in fear of robberies. Chamber of Deputies Speaker Miroslava Němcová (Civic Democrats, ODS) has not agreed to the proposal, but Gazdík said she has not rejected it outright either.
Tomáš Halík, a professor at Charles University and pastor at Old Town's St. Salvator church, calls the chapel proposal an "outstanding idea."
"I imagine deputies who are not churchgoers could appreciate it, since bearing the weight of responsible decision making often requires a quiet place dedicated to thinking in peace and quiet," he said.
He added such places are common abroad, and noted visiting a chapel at the European Parliament in Brussels. "If such a space could contribute even a miniscule amount of enlightenment to a number of our lawmakers, it would be a great investment," he said.