Secular Hungary

Secular Hungary

“Pro-Christian” Morals in the Ethics Textbook

As my readers know, the Fidesz-KDNP government is gradually introducing compulsory religious education in state schools. Starting from this school year, first and fifth year pupils have to participate in religious education. While the parents of 52% of the new school children have opted for religious education and 48% insisted on the secular alternative, 58% of the ca. 10-year-old fifth graders will attend morals classes. Although this course in morals is supposed to be a secular alternative, it is not by chance that it is called „moral teachings” („erkölcstan”), and not „ethics” (which would be „etika”). Still, comparatively luckily, a group of scientists around István Kamarás, who have been developing teaching materials for ethics classes in a less formal school setting (some ethics was compulsory also earlier), were included in preparing the final version of the curriculum, where nationalist/moralist paragraphs and regular ethics alternate.
Four textbooks for 10-year-old kids were approved. Two of them are totally acceptable inasmuch as they try to develop the children’s ability to think about ethical issues and encourage them to give their opinion. A third one has a similar approach, but the wording is a bit difficult for this age group. The fourth book, Morals (“Erkölcstan”) by Mr Ferenc Bánhegyi and Mrs Ilona Olajosné Kádár, however must be the wet-dream of the superficially thinking hardcore pro-religious. Mr Bánhegyi has also written other textbooks published by Apáczai Kiadó, although one of them has been refused ministerial approval (the then minister, Mr Zoltán Pokorni of Fidesz, has no role in the present government).
Unlike the other books, it doesn’t incite children to think about what they’re doing and why (even the questions have the “right” answers encoded in themselves), but issues such deepities such as the following:

„Do not pass your day with meaningless things. Because what is more important? To have a good friend and helpmate, or to have disputes with everybody who doesn’t share our views?”
„Feelings are like a rollercoaster. One could say, each and everyone feels differently towards the other.”
„The young can feel that there is no order and security around u sin the world.”
„Ever newer miracle cars appear, but thanks to this there are ever more road accidents.”
„If you go to the mountains, take a sweater and a rain coat.”
„If you call someone by phone, you have to introduce yourself first [unlike in other countries – szf]. Even if the screen of the mobile phone notifies the recipient.”
„Food tastes much better when it is eaten at a nicely set table. Therefore we have to set the table nicely even if only our family is present.”

The book is also keen on proselytising – remember, this is the course for kids whose parents have chosen it as an alternative to sectarian religious instruction:

„The advantage of Roman Catholic and protestant Christian communities is that they partially eliminate many detrimental effects of the consumer society.
„Courage [definition]: When man is able to resist angers in difficult situations … The greatest deed of the courageous person is martyrdom.”
„Few people want to connect with the church communities that give values, order and security”

Meanwhile, at the Catholic class, their younger peers in grade 4 (9-10 years old!) are taught the following in the textbook of Mrs Mária Fülöpné Erdő, rector of the Apor Vilmos Catholic College: „Homosexual acts means sexual relations between persons of the same sex. This are grave mortal sins.”


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