While in the West the impact of institutional religion, which historically has infl uenced and shaped the models of Western society directly and indirectly, is often perceived to be decreasing, in some parts of what is perceived as ‘Eastern Europe’, as I have previously argued, institutional religion still plays a signifi cant role in shaping nations, national identities, and national

politics. A revitalization of religion in Russia and the Balkans came with the end of the communist era, when national and religious myths were revived creating a new sense of belonging. The political processes of homogenizing the nation were usually represented as a process of returning to the ‘roots’ of the true identity of ‘the people’. In this sense, religion continues to be perceived as “vital in the national consciousness”. 1 The revival of religion corresponded with the revival of ethnic nationalism, and religion and nation remain inextricably intertwined. For this reason, when speaking about religion in the Balkans or Russia, most scholars usually contextualize religion within the frame of the national, and connect it with nationalism. The Balkans is perhaps one of the most intriguing examples of the role of institutional religion and nationalism, where ethnicity determines religion and religion determines ethnicity.