Slovenian and Polish Religio-National Mythologies: A Comparative Analysis

Mitja Velikonja
2003 Religion, State and Society  
Nation-building processes in Central and Eastern Europe differed considerably from those in the West: cultural, linguistic and religious elements were of vital importance. This text is intended to analyse, in a comparative manner, Slovenian and Polish religio-national mythologies, and the role of institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church -'Rimsko-katoliska cerkev' or 'Kosci6! Rzymsko-Katolicki' -in their creation, development and transformation. I shall begin with a comparison of the
more » ... arison of the similarities and notable differences between the historical backgrounds of the two nations, important for this topic, and continue with a comparison of Slovenian and Polish religio-national mythologies. The methodology I have applied was developed by American sociologist of religion Michael Sells in his analyses of the 'Christoslavic' religio-national mythology of the South Slavs involved in the recent Balkan wars (particularly the Serbs). Sells considers this a dominant form of their religio-national mythological self-construction and self-perception. It is my opinion that this approach can also be successfully applied to analyses of the religio-national mythologies of other Slav nations which, historically, were heavily influenced, indeed dominated, by Christianity and different Christian churches. I Each of these nations is familiar with a specific form of religio-national mythology, whose two basic beliefs are: (1) that Slavs are Christians by nature (Catholic, Orthodox or other Christian denomination: that is, that being Slav means being Christian,2 Slavs are racially Christian, Christianity -as the faith of their grandfathers -is the only true religion for them; (2) that any conversion from Christianity is a betrayal of the Slavic race: that is, that those who are so converted are not true Slavs, there is something wrong with them and their national identity, they have betrayed their ancestors; and that something has to be done to overcome this 'problem' (Sells, 1996, pp. 36, 47,51). Religio-nationalistic apologists often follow biblical examples in nation-building processes, because, to quote Hastings, the Bible, moreover, presented in Israel itself a developed model of what it means to be a nation -a unity of people, language, religion, territory and
doi:10.1080/0963749032000107054 fatcat:xarmziiz3zcwrjyqpailm45bhm