Not Enough Devotion
February 24, 2013
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Hungarians are learning the hard way that religious education is curbing teachers’ religious freedom. Two teachers have been dismissed int he Hungarian town of Balatonfüred, allegedly because during their participation in Sunday family worship they were not „devotional” enough.
Their school was taken over from the local government by the reformed church last year, and in the takeover process the local church promised to ensure religious freedom. However, their wording was „we don’t want to make a seminary out of this, but we want to raise virtuous, faithful Hungarians in the broadest and most noble sense, without regard to denominational boundaries”, which does show that their notion of religious freedom does not include the freedom not to be religious.
Since 2011, many local governments have handed over their schools to churches. Their incentive was often financial: schools of local governments received only half as much subsidy from the central budget as compared to church schools, and while before, local governments had to finance any school handed over to a church for another five years, this limit was abolished by the conservative government. The plans to centralise state education added momentum to this trend, since some local authorities hoped to maintain some influence over their schools by handing over their school to a church.