In This Review

Balkan Idols: Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States
Balkan Idols: Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States
By Vjekoslav Perica
Oxford University Press, 2002, 332 pp

This is the first political history of the three principal organized religions in postwar Yugoslavia and its successor states: the Croatian Catholic Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Islamic community. Perica carefully explores the relationships of each to Tito's Yugoslavia, to one another, to the wars, and to the new states. The Serbian and Croatian churches, in particular, have long arrogated the definition of nationhood to themselves. Because ecumenical moments in Yugoslavia were few, empathy for those of another faith was limited, and commitment to an open-armed, united Yugoslavia was weak, the link between religion and nationalism was neither liberal in the communist period nor benevolent during communism's collapse. All too often, the role of the churches -- at times the leadership, at other times the clergy -- has been to enlarge the sense of victimhood and to justify revenge.