The patriarch and the pride: Discourse analysis of the online public response to the Serbian Orthodox Church condemnation of the 2012 gay pride

Dubravka Valić-Nedeljković*, Ruard R. Ganzevoort, S. Sremac

*Corresponding author for this work

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This chapter tries to understand the complex field of lived religion, nationalism, and sexual (in)tolerance by analyzing the online public responses to the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej’s comments on the Belgrade Gay Pride Parade 2012. The aim is to identify discourse strategies of commenters on the most visited online multimedia portals in the Serbian language who responded to the news items published on October 3, 2012 concerning Patriarch Irinej’s open letter to the Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, urging him to ban the upcoming Pride Parade. The discursive strategies found in the material are organized in two main categories. Relational strategies (focus on online intolerance) emphasize the direct interaction between speaker and audience, in this case between the Patriarch and the commenters. Argumentative strategies (focus on online lived religion) highlight the content of the interactions. The concept of lived religion will serve here as an analytical and epistemological tool for understanding online religious practice and its perspectives on the politics of intolerance in Serbia. Lived religion is understood as the patterns of meaning, experience, and action of religious and spiritual persons and groups that emerge from and contribute to their relation with (what they consider to be) the sacred. The focus of a lived religion approach is neither on the canonical sources of a religious tradition nor on the doctrinal calibration of religious convictions but on the day-to-day ways in which religion is lived. Religion then is also understood in a broad sense, including the major traditions and denominations as well as post-modern spiritualities, indigenous cultural habits, and civil religion or implicit religion (Ganzevoort and Roeland 2014). More specifically, in this chapter we will not be looking at the theological debates about religious diversity (theologia religionum), nor at those about sexual diversity. Instead we will focus on the ways the debates are played out in public discourse at the societal level. Recent developments in the study of lived religion mostly focus on the importance of lived religion in individual everyday religious/spiritual practices and experiences in specific sociocultural contexts; less effort is spent in grasping the complex subtleties of how religion is lived in virtual spaces. For that reason, there is a clear shortfall in the existing literature in terms of analyzing lived religion in the virtual (online) spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLived Religion and the Politics of (In)Tolerance
EditorsR. Ruard Ganzevoort, Srdjan Sremac
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783319434063
ISBN (Print)9783319434056, 9783319828152
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Lived Religion and Societal Challenges (PSLRSC)
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


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