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A Niche in a Conflict Area: The Development of the Baptist Church in the Areas of Petrinja, Glina, Sisak and Dvor
Puni tekst: pdf (546 KB),
Str. 85 - 110
One of the aspects of social changes during the transitional period in most post-socialist countries was the revival of religion. The revival of Churches that accompanied the national upsurge in some countries was associated with the growth of post-socialist nationalism. This discussion focuses on the development of a different, transnational religious option in an area of ethnic conflict. It analyses the development of the Baptist Church in the post-conflict region of Banovina. The paper is based on interviews conducted mostly among representatives and members of the Baptist Church. After the Croatian Homeland War, in Banovina there was an increase in the number of members of this Church. Among new members the majority were ethnic Serbs, persons from mixed marriages and former communists. Neither the Catholic Church nor the Serbian Orthodox Church were acceptable options to them. The authors conclude that the Baptist option was sustainable due to three factors. First, the development of the Church was based on an already existing tradition and on memories of events from World War II, which were activated by the new war situation at the beginning of the Nineties. Second, the Baptist Church ensured a middle, transnational option in an ethnically mixed setting, and in this way attracted all those who were looking for a neutrality niche in an ethnically strongly divided and conflictive society. Third, the active involvement and help of humanitarian organisations associated with the Baptist Church, during the war and the afterwards, helped to create an image of the Baptist Church as a shelter. These humanitarian activities made it possible for the Baptist Church to leave the shadows and become “visible”, and thus prevail over perceptions in which it was seen as an obscure sect.
Banovina; Baptists; religion; territory; ethnic group; conflict
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