Three Hungarian Bishops
January 11, 2014
Posted by on
In December, Lutheran bishop Tamás Fabinyi was interviewed by the Hungarian newspaper Népszabadság. Mr Fabinyi argued for a better separation between the state and the churches. Before thinking of anything such as a secular state: according to him, this means that the state should give money and shut up, while the churches will tell the state what is right and wrong.
Meanwhile Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei, head of the Hungarian reformed church, talked about money. The faith activities of the churches are mainly but not exclusively funded via income tax: taxpayers may dedicate 1% of their income tax to one of the churches, and while only 26% of taxpayers do so, legislation ensure that the churches receive also the non-dedicated part of this 1% of all income tax (churches receive additional funds, but this 1% constitutes quite a big chunk). Mr Bölcskei deplores recent tax cuts (benefiting rich families with many children, while taxes for low-income taxpayers actually increased), which mean that the churches receive less money than they could with higher taxation, and asks for a more predictable funding system. I am convinced that most NGOs as well as many state-financed institutions such as universities, cultural institutions, public schools and the whole health system will agree with Mr Bölcskei: unlike the churches, they indeed have suffered serious cuts in funding. Funding is indeed unpredictable, but in the case of churches, the unexpected changes always had a positive
Our third bishop is László Tőkés, previously bishop of the reformed church of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and member of the European Parliament for Romania, who at the age of 62 is having another kid. This, of course, would be his private affair, except that his new wife happened to be 8 months pregnant at their wedding, which, assuming that Mr Tőkés is the father of the child, means that his lifestyle is not quite compatible with the teaching of his own church which forbids sex outside marriage.