Secular Hungary

Secular Hungary

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Religious community With a Backbone

The Hungarian government has allocated 1,5 billion forints (ca. 5 million Euros) for projects organised by NGOs in memory of the holocaust. However, the (Hungarian) Jewish community of Nové Zámky in Slovakia has refused to accept the 1,5 million forint (ca. 5000 Euro) allocated to them, since they find it inacceptable that the Hungarian government treats the dead as the loss of Jewry only, but not as killed Hungarian citizens, while shifting all resposibility to the Germans. They also object to a statement by Mr Sándor Szakály, who has been appointed director of Veritas Institute for History. The institute was founded recently with the mission to present Hungarian history in a way that strenghtens Hungarian national identity, and Mr Szakály has become notorious for his opinion that the deportation that led to the killing of ca. 15-18 thousand Jewish refugees who had been deported to the Ukraine in 1941, just after Germany entered war against the Soviet Union, was actually merely an administrative measure regarding foreigners.
More than 4000 persons were deported from Nové Zámky to German death camps. One third of those who died in Auschwitz-Birkenau were Hungarian citizens.

The biggest Hungarian Jewish community, MAZSIHISZ is still debating whether or not to boycott the memorial activities of the government.


More EU Funds For Hungarian Churches

The Hungarian government gives another 1000 million Euro EU-funds to the churches, according to the weekly Világgazdaság. 4% of EU development funds may be used to fund public administration according to EU funding rules, but the governments are free to allocate these funds to other purposes and the Hungarian government has done so – stated Mr János Lázár, MP and head of the prime minister’s office, who from January 1st is also responsible for the distribution of EU monies received from the EU in the framework of their cohesion policies for the years 2014-2020, in his parliamentary answer to Mr László Varju (Democratic Coalition), who had asked on which grounds the government plans to allocate 300 000 million forints specifically to the churches, although church projects are also eligible for funding within regular programmes and have successfully applied for EU monies also during the funding period 2006-2013.
Mr Lázár, who has been notorious for having stated that a person’s worth is measured by their income, just has received a lot of attention this week, thanks to the internet news portal Cink, who found a Facebook post shared by Ms Donatella Failoni about a hunting party she took part in last December. The hunting party was organised by Mr Lázár and included actor Sándor Oszter (husband of Ms Failoni) as well as Archduke Michael of Habsburg and wife, Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein and wife. During the hunt 912 pheasants were shot for pleasure.

Hungarian State Mass For Eusebio

This late Portuguese football player called Eusebio must have been a grave sinner, if even the Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources (which is led by a pastor of the reformed church called Zoltán Balog) has had a mass said for his soul on January 9th…

Three Hungarian Bishops

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.

Compulsory Catholic Course for Foster Parents

Christian Democrat state secretary Mr Miklós Soltész has announced that foster parents are required to take a 400 lessons course developed by the Apor Vilmos Catholic College, whose rector, Ms Mária Fülöpné Erdő, the sister of Péter Erdő cardinal and respected member of the European congress of catholic bishops has just been featured in the media due to her textbook for religious education: In her book, 10-year-old children of Catholic parents are informed that “homosexuality is a deadly sin”.
The government uses EU monies to finance the course, but according to the daily Népszava, the 5300 million forints (ca. 18 million euro!) will be enough for only a fourth (1600 of a total of 5200) of all foster parents, making the course rather expensive.
The course, which takes 52 full days’ time, is compulsory also for part-time foster parents (who will spend 52 weekend days less with their foster children) or for people who undertook to raise the children of their dead family or friends. Parents not completing the course before 2017 will be rid of their children.

EU-Funds for Green Energy: Only For Churches

While an earlier programme for increasing the use of green energy was so successful that the money was enough only for applicants from the state sector, and most applicants found themselves on a waiting list, they won’t get anything of the additional funds made available for this programme. According to the online newsportal Origo, The National Development Agency, which is managing EU funds in Hungary, plans to retroactively change the conditions for applying, so instead of NGOs and SMEs who already have invested their time and money in writing a project only green energy projects by churches will be eligible for funding.

The Vatican gives the lie to the Hungarian president

The Hungarian government keeps complaining that both the national and the international media does them wrong. However, now even the Vatican gave them the lie… Hungarian President János Áder went to pope Francis I. (together with family and political friends), and proudly announced afterwards to the Hungarian news agency MTI that the pope has accepted his invitation to Hungary for 2016, the 1700th birthday of Saint Martin, who was born in the Roman province of Pannonia, now the Western part of Hungary.
However, practically at the same time, Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi informed the media that the pope has received the invitation with joy and is seriously considering it, but it is way too early to say anything about the date.
Well, if the government hadn’t dismissed most of the experienced staff at the ministry of foreign affairs, and of course if they would listen, they would have got some help about how to interpret the pope’s answer. And if MTI weren’t so subservient, they could have prevented a laugh by double checking their sources. But anyway, we hope we’ll be lucky to save those 15 billion forints that a pope’s visit would cost the taxpayer…

“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.”

Top 10 Sexist Hungarian Politicians

You may remember, that for some people, the sinfulness of women is the cause of all bad things. Would you have thought that this includes homelessness? After Hungarian MP Mr István Varga stated that the cause of domestic violence is that wives are not bearing enough children, his colleague, the Christian Democrat Mr Tamás Lukács has now elaborated that women are responsible for homelessness, since if one visits a shelter, the story of 8 out of 10 men starts with „when I divorced…”, and the bill against domestic violence makes it possible to ban a man [who beats his wife and children] from his home.
The weekly Magyar Narancs has a top 10 list of the womanhaters of the „Respectable House” (as the Hungarian parliament is sometimes called):

1. Mr Blind Dog, József Balogh, ex-Fidesz: His wife had had to go to hospital int he middle of the night, after they came home from the wedding of the stepson. Balogh later claimed she fell over their blind shepherd dog („vak komondor”) and anyway, he didn’t remember much since he was tired and had drunk some alcohol at the wedding (which means his license should be taken away, since the alcohol limit is 0). The former wife claims she had told her successor about Mr Balogh’s beating habits.

2. György Gyula Zagyva, Jobbik, is reported to have said to MP Ms Ágnes Osztolykán: „Even though you’re a gypsy, I’d bang [lit.: stab] you.” He claims he said „they’d’, not „I’d”.

3. István Józsa, Socialists, has reportedly pulled the hair of Dr Anett Kubovicsné Borbély at a committee meeting. He claims she wasn’t shouting because of him but because she was angry about a violation of the rules. He also states that he has said „kiss your hands” to her ever since – which is a greeting form preferred by elderly men who have problems with independent women and think being „chivalrous” is a solution to their  problem. Especially younger working women (under 55 or so) find it patronising.

4. Isván Varga, Fidesz: the cause of domestic violence is that women do not bear enough children.

5. Tamás Deutsch, Fidesz, is rude through and through, preferably via Twitter. His twitter comment on an intervention of MP Tímea Szabó: „Timmie, the political blue-stocking on duty is showing her biceps.”

6. László Tahó, when asked by her to be quiet during the speech of her colleague, told the same MP Szabó: „What are you babbling here, girlie?”

7. István Klinghammer, state secretary for higher education and former rector of Eötvös Loránd University is a bit more complicated, but the gist is that small rural colleges will be enough for the local girls to get a degree in preschool education.

8. Viktor Orbán, prime minister (who alledgedly has been beating his wife for decades) just gave away his eldest daughter into marriage and showed his ideal world to be ne where men play football and the ladies weep at the wedding.

9. Zoltán Illés, state secretary insulted Ms Bernadett Szél– well, just read the statement of the CEU, where he teaches:

10. László Köver, Fidesz, speaker, whose job it is to keep things civil, and who actually finds this totally normal (as one journalist said, this sexist dialect is actually his mother tongue), while minor transgressions from the opposition parties are punished with heavy fines (MP Szabó had to pay one third of her allowance for holding a banner saying „Distribute land, don’t steal it”, referring to scandalous tenders for the lease of agricultural land belonging to the state).

No wonder, the Hungarian parliament has one of the lowest ratio of women MPs in the world…

Money again

While the new minister of finances, Mihály Varga had to prepare a 100 billion (ca. 345 million Euro) austerity programme for 2013 in case the (over)planned income target won’t be achieved, he still found 1.1 billion (3.8 million Euro) to finish a new church building in Budapest’s Gazdagrét area. The church was built during the first Orbán-government (1998-2002) from state funds, but they ran out of money.

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