Serbs, Religion

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The Serbs (, ) are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to the Balkans.


Serbs are predominantly Orthodox Christians, and before Christianity they adhered to Slavic paganism. Serbs were Christianized at the beginning of the 9th century, and the Serbian Orthodox Church was established as the national church by Saint Sava in 1219. An autocephalous Church led by a Patriarch, and consisting of three Archbishoprics, six Metropolitanates and thirty-one dioceses, it has around 10 million adherents. Followers of the church form the largest religious group in Serbia and Montenegro, and the second-largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The church has an archbishopric in Macedonia and dioceses in Western Europe, North America and Australia. The identity of ethnic Serbs was historically largely based on Orthodox Christianity and on the Serbian Orthodox Church in particular, to the extent of the claims that those who are not its faithful are not Serbs. However, the conversion of the south Slavs from paganism to Christianity took place before the Great Schism, the split between the Greek East and the Catholic West. After the Schism, those who lived under the Orthodox sphere of influence became Orthodox and those who lived under the Catholic sphere of influence became Catholic. Some ethnologists consider that the distinct Serb and Croat identities relate to religion rather than ethnicity. With the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, some Serbs converted to Islam. This was particularly, but not wholly, so in Bosnia. The best known Muslim Serb is probably either Mehmed Paša Sokolović or Meša Selimović which were Serbians children forced into Turkish army (see Janissary). Since the second half of the 19th century, some Serbs converted to Protestantism, while historically some Serbs also were Catholics (especially in Dalmatia). The remainder of Serbs remain predominantly Serbian Orthodox Christians.

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External Links

  • WikipediaProject Rastko – Serbian cultural and historical research societyArticles about the Serbs by Westerners

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