Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Serbia: Woman Loses Custody Battle Due To Alleged Jehovah's Witnesses Ties

August 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A court in the Serbian municipality of Velika Plana has awarded custody of an 8-month-old baby girl to her father because the baby's mother was believed to be a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

The mother, who says she is not a member of the religious group, is now taking legal action against the judge responsible for the custody ruling. Observers say the case reveals disturbing details about Serbia's judicial procedures as well as its attitudes toward religious minorities.

The judge made his ruling in the course of divorce proceedings, and awarded primary custody rights to the father despite the fact that the baby was still breast-feeding.

False Claims Alleged

The girl's mother, Marija Arsenijevic, said her husband made false claims about her membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses in order to win custody.

"He claimed that I was a Jehovah's Witness and that I had adopted some of their practices -- this is not true," Arsenijevic told RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service. "I am not a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, although I have nothing against any particular religion. That was simply an excuse made up by my husband to get our child, and he got away with it. The court didn't even hear my side of the story, and yet they felt justified in making the ruling."

More than 80 percent of people in Serbia belong to the Serbian Orthodox
Church, but minority religions are protected under Serbian law.

Arsenijevic is now taking the judge to court for making a decision based on her ex-husband's untrue allegations. It is unusual in Serbia for custody to be awarded to the father. Arsenijevic's lawyer, Stevan Jankovic, said the decision can be seen as a direct attack on a non-native religious community.

Read the rest of the story here:


Again we read of Serbia's historical existence as an Orthodox Nation is being judged according to modern standards of placing all religions on a level playing field. Disregarded is any belief if such a thing as the One, True Faith exists.

It would seem that the only "one, true faith" the world holds is that all are the one, true faith according to what's true to the individual subjectively. The difficult task of objectively making any claim as to Ultimate Truth is of course put forth as "narrow, old, a thing of the past from which we moderns are (finally) being liberated from such confining views".

In believing that all religions are equally true, the modern maker of this claim does not realize that he or she or they or the whole world is holding a very narrow option to be true. It just seems more tolerant because it seemingly takes under its umbrella all as having equal value according to what?! Or whom?!

This belief homogenizes all differences by force into a "sameness" that is gotten artificially.

A "referee" so to speak, creating a playing field which the Faith never consented to but is being imposed upon it overtly and subtly.

As Orthodox, I believe we should be more literal in our understanding of how "the world " views the Church. It hates her. Always has, always will. The Church is the Christ's Body and her presence and proclaiming that victory over death has actually occurred, that actually, historically One has risen and bequeathed upon His Apostles the One True Faith to be held inviolate that any and all coming to the Church from out of the wilderness of "the world" may be healed, may become truly human.

It is my belief that when I see such stories as this I see workings in the shadows to bring about ends which are not for the good of mankind.

In the article's last paragraph Djordjevic said, ""One can only hope that clericalization will turn out to be nothing more than a passing tendency whose appeal will fade, and that the church will once against turn to its fundamental mission, which is fostering the culture of love for others, whether they are like us or not."

Mr. Djordjevic, this is not the mission of the Church, not even close.

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