United Brethren has retired.


I served my mission in Austria at a time (1995-1997) when the former Yugoslavia belonged to the Vienna mission. Essentially we had two missions in one — German and Serbo-Croatian (or Slovenian) — and the two sides rarely met. The war in Bosnia was winding down whilst we were there, but it was still a hot topic and obviously we had no missionaries in Sarejevo. We did, on occasion, have Elders in Serbia. They were periodically kicked-out and were not allowed to proselytise. The high adventures of the Serbian missionaries were always looked upon enviously by the rest of the mission.

It’s sad for me to see, then, that Mormons are being given a hard time in Serbia. It’s hardly surprising, but it should give pause to those of us living in more religiously hospitable climes. I remember the first temple trip of the Serbian Saints: they stayed over on their way to Switzerland at the mission home in Vienna. I still have the Cyrillic business card of the branch president in Belgrade. I do hope he and his friends are bearing up under pressure.

Here’s the introduction to the news article in question:

SERBIA: Increased attacks on religious minorities

Forum 18 (Oslo, Norway)

SERBIA — Last year saw an upsurge in attacks on religious minorities, ranging from slander and vilification in the media to physical attacks on places of worship and individuals, with such attacks continuing at a high level into this year, Forum 18 News Service reports in presenting the results of its investigation into religious intolerance in Serbia. More than 100 attacks took place on Protestant, Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Jewish, Muslim and Romanian Orthodox targets in 2004, with more than 25 such attacks between January and May this year. Religious minorities complain the authorities are failing to take action to punish the perpetrators. Incidents range from an attack on a mosque in Presevo with a hand-held rocket launcher last February to graffiti "Death to Adventists" written on the walls of the Adventist theological college in Belgrade in March. Numerous Catholic graveyards have been desecrated, while the media constantly speak of Protestants, Old Calendarist Orthodox and Mormons as "dangerous sects".

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (June 29, 2005 10:59 PM) 

Ronan, isn't it amazing how entire countries can just meltdown into political, ethnic, and religious chaos? Yugoslavia and Lebanon come to mind in recent years; Somalia and a few other African countries could go on the list too. It seems like ethnic, political, and religious intolerance flourish in times of social distress, as people fall back on more basic sources of trust and cohesion (family, clan, and "tribe"). Let's hope the Serbian Mormons can weather the storm or else escape it. 

Posted by Dave


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