Religion plays an important role in the Balkans. The largest religious community in the region is the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). In Serbia, 85 percent of the citizens identify with the Orthodox Christianity. Besides the Church in North Macedonia that recently received autocephaly, the SOC is the only recognized (canonical) Orthodox Church in other former Yugoslav countries. To this day, the SOC has a considerable influence on the state and society. However, it is by no means monolithic. However, many portrayals unfortunately lack nuance. Thus, on the one hand, religious representatives and the Church are blamed for all kinds of negative tendencies in politics and society, especially those that are violent, divisive, and backward. On the other hand, the Serbian Orthodox Church was portrayed as an almost infallible guardian of national identity that must not be criticized at any price. The burning issue for the public remains the relationship between the political authorities in the region and the hierarchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Some see this relationship as too conflictual, while others see it as too close. As in other countries, there are conflicts, for example, over bioethical issues, especially between the Orthodox Church and liberal circles. The world of religious communities in this region, including the SOC, is still strongly dominated by men. Overall, however, the Serbian Orthodox Church is much more heterogeneous than it seems at first glance. Some problems also arise from relations between Orthodox Churches, first between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church, and the position of the SOC in this conflict. These relations have been exacerbated by Russia's attack on Ukraine, which is defended by the Russian Orthodox Church.
We are pleased to have Jelena Jorgačević Kisić, a renowned Serbian religious journalist, as our guest, who will talk about the Serbian Orthodox Church and its influence on politics and society in Serbia and the region and will be happy to answer our questions afterwards. We would like to thank the HSS, which invites us to a small reception afterwards, for their renewed support.