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24 Dec, 2014 13:48

'In the name of the Holy Pot': Zombie Church preaches against corruption in Slovenia

Ringing cowbells, pots and pans… a new ‘anti-corruption religion’ is emerging in Slovenia. The Zombie Church has already attracted thousands of followers and may spread beyond the tiny European enclave’s borders, its founders believe.

The members of the Zombie Church of the Blissful Ringing gather around the ‘Temple of Corruption’ - the country’s parliament in Ljubljana - for holy mass every Wednesday.

The church was founded in March 2013 and has become Slovenia’s fifth largest religion, with already over 10,000 believers, according to 37-year-old Rok Gros, the church’s founder.

Gros, an entrepreneur and father of two, rejoices in the title of High Priest. He is Keeper of the Pot and the Pan, and usually ends his sermons with "Bong,” which is apparently the church's version of the Catholic "Amen".

“This is our goal – try to change the world here on Earth and [we] are trying to do our best so that we could come to the holy Trans Universe,” Gros told RT.

Rok Gros (C), founder of the "Trans-Universal Zombie Church of the Blissful Ringing" reads during a weekly "mass" in front of the Slovenian parliament, the "sanctuary of corruption", in Ljubljana, Slovenia on November 19, 2014 (AFP Photo / Jure Makovec)

Also, according to the Zombie ‘Holy Book’, in official notifications this formal address should be used: “In the name of the Bell, the Pan and the Holy Pot. Bong!”

“Forgive yourself and the Bell will forgive you,” says Article 15 of the book, while Article 14 states that “as some inhabitants of this country live on another planet, they can only be referred to as aliens.”

The Zombie Church religion was established when unemployment in Slovenia hit a record high (13.6 percent) and the country was on the brink of a bailout. Church followers declared that corruption had reduced the country to this sorry state of affairs.

A member of the "Trans-Universal Zombie Church of the Blissful Ringing" hits a pot with a spoon during their weekly "mass" in front of the Slovenian parliament, the "sanctuary of corruption", in Ljubljana, Slovenia on November 19, 2014 (AFP Photo / Jure Makovec)

"We are led by a pack of elite lunatics in 'Corruptland'... we have to ring our bells until they are rung away," the Zombie ‘Holy Book’ says.

“…on the tenth day the Bell said: Go to the temple of corruption and original sin, and ring. Bong,” says Article 10 of the book.

According to Gros, back in March 2013, the majority of Zombie Church members were actually protesters.

“About 75 billion euros have been stolen and sent to offshore accounts during the 20 years of our independence,” Gros says. Slovenia split from Yugoslavia in 1991 and joined the EU in 2004.

According to Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer 2013, Slovenia’s political parties, parliament, the judiciary and public officials are extremely corrupt. About 77 percent of households believe the government's efforts to curb corruption are “ineffective.”

The church got its name from the country’s former PM Janez Jansa, who in 2013 was sentenced to two years on corruption charges, but was then released pending appeal. Jansa called the protesters who demanded his resignation “zombies.” The activists now carry this name as a badge of honor.

"All those who have led the country in the last 10 years wouldn't get more than an unsatisfactory grade," Gros told AFP.
Ales Crnic, a cultural studies professor at Ljubljana University, says the Zombie Church could spread beyond Slovenia.

"We could hardly imagine such religions ever becoming mainstream... [But] it is possible that the Church spreads to other countries since it addresses universal dilemmas that the Western world faces," he told the agency.

"We will spread our faith and Church all over the world,” adds the optimistic Gros.