Secular Hungary

Secular Hungary

Orbán Is Worth A Mass

An Orban fan collective of unmarried girls and married ladies (no „women”, mind you, but „lányok”, i.e. girls, and „asszonyok”, i.e. married ladies) has paid for a Catholic thanksgiving mass on the occasion of prime minister Viktor Orbán’s 50th birthday on 31st of May. Mr Orbán happens to be a protestant, but the four youngest of his kids were baptised in the Catholic church, and he was received by the late pope John Paul II for an audience with his family. He also told the press that he himself didn’t intend to celebrate his birthday and asked his wife not to arrange any surprise party. Anyway, this is not the first time Orbán fans are a bit overdoing it: at a village event at the end of his first government, an elderly person came up to him and kissed his hand in the old, feudal manner. Still, this definitely is the manner he behaves towards „his” people, so no wonder some are behaving like subjects.
The mass will be held at the Belvárosi plébániatemplom, whose parish priest is a certain Zoltán Osztie, who is the head of the Christian Intellectuals’ Association.
Of course the Catholic Church is quite right to thank their god for Orbán – just now, he’s very active in telling everywhere – at home and abroad – that being christian is essential. In April he participated at a Catholic conference in Bilbao, Spain, where he stated that Europaeans cannot get rid of their Christian essence, in spite that Brussel is promoting an agressively secular agenda. He also told the newspaper El Mundo that a Christian Europe is better place even for non-believers. A week ago, he visited the church of Ják, one of the most important roman style monuments in Hungary, where he reiterated that Europe fell in the trap of agressive secularism, internationalism and is against families, while both Europeans and Hungarians can face the future only through putting prayer and work in the centre of their lives. On the 7th of May, he claimed again that Europe is against families, and that Hungary is being persecuted by the EU because Hungary protects the family (meaning one man, one woman and their progeny). By the way, if anyone has questiosn about the type of family Orbán wants to protect: as a nice coincidence, 200 pregnant women and their impregnators were invited for Mother’s Day (5 May in Hungary) to a matinee at the Opera—to watch The Taming Of The Shrew, a play by Shakespeare on pre-marriage domestic violence with the aim to break the young woman’s back. This happened just one week after MP József Balogh’s partner had to be taken to the hospital, allegedly because he beat her up. Balogh said it was their big blind dog over whom „Terike” (Theresa) fell, but Terike decided not to go back to him after she left hospital. Meanwhile, his ex-wife told the media that Balogh beat her constantly throughout their 25 years marriage (there are medical records around), and that she even had warned Terike about Balogh. Balogh is still an MP, although he has left the Fidesz faction.


Strange Teaching Methods

The Catholic religion teacher (a father of six children himself and a deacon) of Szvetnik Joachim Primary School in Mélykút used a somewhat strange methodology to teach his pupils about the sin of lust: he had a boy and a girl stand up in front of the class, undress and kiss each other in their underware (their age was not given; pupils in primary schools are between 6 and 14 years old). The parents were upset, the incapacitated headmaster pointed to the state authority for maintaining schools since most competences of 11 thousand headmasters were transmitted to the Klebelsberg Centre (Klebelsberg Kunó Intézményfenntartó Központ, or KLIK) on January 1st, 2013. According to the relevant legislation, although religious education is paid for from the state budget, it is the churches who decide about the teachers and the content of the teachings, but since the school is responsible for the children’s well-being, according to some, KLIK could well investigate, although they have not answered journalists’ questions so far. The Kalocsa-Kecskemét Diocese told the left-wing weekly 168 óra that they have contacted the Vatican for guidance in the matter. The deacon says he’s innocent and doesn’t understand a thing.

Less religious Than Ever – Data on Religious Affiliation of the 2011 Census in Hungary

The Hungarian Central Statistical Office has published the detailed date of the census carried out in October 2011, which shows a huge drop in the number of people who associate themselves with traditional churches. The number of persons of “other” denominations increased by 70%, while the number of persons who stated that they do not belong to any denomination increased within ten years by one fifth. This latter figure includes atheists. While the 2001 census does not give separate data specifically for atheists, the 2011 census does, with the intention to put religious people/believers without affiliation in the “no affiliation” box, and counting atheists separately. However, strictly speaking “atheist” is not a proper answer to the question asked, especially considering that there is no atheist community in the country (“agnostic” was not a possible answer). The exact question was “What religious community, denomination do you feel you belong to?” (“Melyik vallási közösséghez, felekezethez érzi tartozónak magát?”), i.e. the data are about belonging to denominational communities, not about belief itself. The “linguistically natural” answer for atheists, agnostics, non-believers and non-denominational believers is the “no affiliation” box. If the statistics office really wants to have data on belief, next time it will have to ask about belief itself (or include belief in all the answers, such as “believer affiliated with denomination X”, “non-believer affiliated to denomination X”, “believer without affiliation”, and “non-believer without affiliation”) instead of introducing a single answer about belief in the “denomination” question.
So it will be interesting to see the data interpreted by religious politicians – my guess is that they are going to lump the “no affiliation” group under the “believers” header (as a polling institute did recently in Germany:

But let’s see the table:





Roman Catholics





Greek Catholics





Catholics together





Orthodox Christians





Reformed (Calvinists)















Other denomination





No religious affiliation







Nones and atheists together





No answer provided



(Between 1949 and 2001, the census did not cover religious data.)

Note that the drop in people identifying as Catholics is almost as big for the last 10 years than for the 62 years between 1949 and 2001 which included 40 years of communism when churchgoing was (to varying degrees) not encouraged.

The question itself, by the way, resulted in a somewhat strange incident about the affiliation of a handful of Roma in the village of Sajókaza who declared themselves Buddhists (while their religious tradition is Catholic), because they answered the question exactly: their school and community building is maintained by a Buddhist community (since religious schools got twice as much funds from the central state budget than NGOs, it would have been virtually impossible not to have a church run this special school).
The framing of the question itself biases data in favour of including looser affiliations, family tradition and the like (as compared to a question like “do you follow the teachings of a denomination, and if yes, which?”). One could fill in a community (the online version listed several hundred communities, and the Catholic church complained that the Catholics didn’t find their church, because they looked under “catholic”, not “Roman catholic”, where it was listed), or tick the “no religious affiliation”, the “atheist” and the “no answer provided” box,
Also, although it was possible to fill in the form online or on paper, much data was collected even in 2011 via personal interviews, however, any household member could answer on behalf of the whole household (with the result that elderly family members living with their adult children would answer the census while their children were away at work). In some places, the arrival of a “state person” is still somewhat of an event, so not only the whole family gathers around the questioner, but also the neighbours, which of course means that the answers will tend towards the expected norm.
It should also be added that the churches campaigned to persuade people to identify themselves in the census as their members, and they pushed their more active members to enlist as census interviewers and go collecting data.
Since the motivations of those refusing to answer may be complex and may vary, it is difficult to interpret the answer. The group probably includes believers (more likely of non traditional religious minorities or Jews) and non-religious people who are either afraid to answer (e.g. because the interviewer happens to be the churchgoing teacher of their nephew in the next village) or just believe that it is none of the government’s business to poke into their lives, and people who just don’t spend much thoughts on religious issues. It may even include some traditional churchgoing believers who just don’t agree with their church’s political statements (such as e.g. Catholics who don’t want to endorse the church’s and KDNP’s policies regarding family planning, abortion and homo- and heterosexual relations outside marriage, or Lutherans who are not happy with some prominent churchmen’s affiliation with the far-right Jobbik).
Still, there is one thing we can without doubt say about those who did not answer for sure: they do not want to endorse the “official” churches, who do not speak neither for them, nor for the “nones” and the “atheists”.

The data can be downloaded here: (1.1.7. Vallás is the one about religious affiliation), all detailed data for 2011 are available here: ).

Money’s Rolling

According to a government decree published last Friday, the Fidesz-KDNP government gives away another 1900 million forint (6,3 million euro, though since the prime minister appointed his finance minister, Mr György Matolcsy to become president of the National Bank, and pushed through another amendment of the constitution written by his own followers) the Hungarian forint looses its value rapidly) from the budget reserve to the Reformed Church, to improve the infrastructure of the church’s schools in Debrecen (while at present state schools have difficulties in providing for enough chalk). They are thinking long-term: for 2014, 3000, for 2015, 2700 and for 2016 2400 million forint will be provided for the same purpose.

Call to Denounce

The coalition partner of the Fidesz government, the Christian Democrat Party (which is supported by around 1% of voters) has expressed their regret on their website that the election of the new head of the church (spelling „head” with a capital against the orthographic rules) many memes have appeared on the internet that are disrespectful and abusive, as well as comments that make fun of religious beliefs and are degrading, antihuman and show hate towards Christians. According to them bloggers have been competing to vilify and ridicule Roman Catholics and the Holy Father. Which in their opinion shows that the Hungarian press enjoys total freedom.
They continue to encourage their readers to file complaints against websites and bloggers based on the basic law (formerly known as constitution), which stipulates that the freedom of opinion may not used to violate the human dignity of others and the Hungarian nation, national, ethnic, racial and religious communities.
Any more questions about the stance of KDNP towards the freedom of speech?


Hungary has celebrated the revolution of 1848/49 last Friday, and as always, this is the occasion to distribute medals. Let’s have a look at who got one.
Of course, there are again a good dozen of church employees from parish priests and administrative workers to national heads of Catholic convents who have received various crosses of the Hungarian Order of Merit. Among them, János Kothencz, director-general for children and youth issues of the Catholic diocese of Szeged-Csanád, whose name you have read only a few weeks ago in an other context: he is the founder and guru of methodology of the Ágota Foundation, which was entrusted with 25 million forint (85 thousand Euros) to recycle last year’s anti abortion campaign initiated by Christian Democrat (KDNP)’s Mr Miklós Soltész, state secretary for health issues. Both Ágota Foundation and Kothencz’ method, KÁSPEM are registered brands, the latter is a method to deal with children who have to be taken out of their families, while the former is an NGO dealing with foster children and foster parents, which prides itself to have a wide network of church sponsors, including the NGO Renovabis, which was established by the German Catholic bishops’ conference in order to give aid to central and Eastern European Catholics. Their aim is the evangelisation of children who had to be taken out of their families by showing them that God and providence love them, too.
There are quite a number of other interesting winners, too: first of all the guitar player of the far-right wing band Kárpátia, then Mr Tamás Fricz, the organiser of the „Peace March” and its NGO, the Civil Unity Forum (Civil Összefogás Fórum, CÖF), i.e. demonstrations in favour of the government, strengthened by Polish conservatives who are transported by special train from Poland; Mr Vilmos Lázár, who is not only a renown horse-cart driver but also the owner of the grocery franchise CBA and who is a vocal supporter of the government; Mrs Tamás Adamik (maiden name Anna Jászó), who supported Fidesz against the former government and whose husband, the classical philologist Tamás Adamik, works for Kráter Műhely, the publisher who edits the books of the late nazi Albert Wass; Ms Emőke Bagdy, a psychologist who established the Society for Family Research I wrote about earlier. Bagdy’s co-founders were Ms Mónika Keresztes Rónaszékiné, a Fidesz MP, and Mr Imre Téglásy. The latter is the president of the Alfa Association which became notorious in 1998 when it tried to force by legal stratagems a 13 year-old-girl to carry her unwanted pregnancy to term (the local parish priest who assisted in the manoeuvre was awarded a medal for this by pope John Paul II).
Hungary can also pride itself with some real crackpot awardees: Mr Ajándok Eőry, a medical practitioner is know for his „alternative” approaches like chi massage, but he has also stated that he is able to predict the likelihood of certain illnesses by applying a pentagram and using the patient’s birth date. He provides medical services for the Hungarian charity of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose head, Catholic priest Imre Kozma stated that Africans are not yet fit for becoming pope. Finally, we have Mr Kornél Bakay who left the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to head a „chair” at the never accredited Humanities Association of Miskolc (Miskolci Bölcsész Egyesület) founded by another crackpot, the late Mr Ferenc Badinyi-Jós. He also ran twice for MP for the far-right MIÉP of the late Mr István Csurka and gave a speech at the funeral of the far-right bishop of the reformed Chruch, Mr Loránt Hegedűs (whose daughter-in-law, Mrs Loránt Hegedűs is an MP for the far-rigth Jobbik). His views are summarised by the linguistic portal Nyest as follows (I couldn’t be more concise): He doubts Darwinian evolutionary theory and sees Hungarian runic script in cave paintings, which he connects to the Sumerian writing system, he denies the existence of the ancient Jewish reign of David and Solomon, he links Hungarians to Huns and Scythians and even Celtic, Etruscan and Greek culture descends from the Magyars. He ascribes medieval slave trade to the Jews, and of course according to him, Jesus was not a Jew, but a Parthian.
Which brings us to the last item for today: the journalist Mr Ferenc Szaniszló was given a Táncsics award by minister (and pastor of the reformed church) Mr Zoltán Balog. During the last few years, Mr Szaniszló has professed quite, well, innovative statements such as the following: gypsies (roma) are primates („emberszabású majom”); as soon as it exhausts its oil occurrences, Israel will populate Hungary with Jews; the Austrian right-wing politician Jörg Haider was killed by a drone because of his success; and the accident at Kolontár (where a basin of an aluminium factory broke and inundated two villages) was not an accident due to natural geological processes (which could have been foreseen) at all but caused by the IMF which ordered NATO to bomb the dam of the artificial lake where residues were stored. After journalists and the Hungarian Journalists’ Association (MÚOSZ) protested and demanded an explanation, Mr Balog said he was sorry and didn’t know who he was giving a medal (several journalists who were honoured earlier have decided to give their medals back in protest). Which is maybe even worse, if it’s true (I mean, is a person who does not tell his staff to do a quick google search prudent enough to act as minister?).

Recycled Billboards

The government has recycled its anti abortion advertisements from last year. The ads, which (as usual in such cases) shows an already well-developed fetus asking „let me live and give me up for adoption”, were originally produced with EU funds meant to improve gender equality, but commissioner Viviane Reading protested, the government decided to cover the costs (110 million forints, i.e. ca. 38 thousand euros) from other funds. Now the government has given the ads with 25 million forints to the Ágota Foundation (Ágota Alapítvány), whose founder, Mr János Kothencz was sponsored by the Christian democrat (KDNP) MP, Mr Péter Harrach, for a job back in 2001-2002 in the administration of the town of Szeged, and who ran on behalf of Fidesz for a seat in the local council.

Religious Education

Smaller denominations are fearing that religious education, which will become gradually compulsory at state schools from September 2013 will in practice mean catholic indoctrination. Although any of the thirty something accredited denomination has the right to provide religious education at schools, in practice a minimum of 7 children per class are required, and in a talk on public tv, Mr László Donáth, a Lutheran pastor, said that smaller denominations such as his will not be able to collect enough children, so parents who want their kids to receive some christian . State secretary Mr Bence Rétvári, a Catholic himself, member of KDNP and former president of the IKSZ assured him that no proselytising is intended, while Gábor Horn, a liberal politician claimed that the state has no business in teaching religious values since it is no unanimity on which ones are to be taught.

The Loving Maltese

The head of the catholic Maltese order’s Hungarian charity (Máltai Szeretetszolgálat), the usually respected priest Imre Kozma has publicly stated with regard to the pope elections that he excludes that an African will become elected, as „they are not yet prepared to be able to deal with the problems of white people.”

Another couple of billions…

Not only many private persons took cheap credits in euro or Swiss francs, but also the churches. At the time, credits in foreign currencies were much cheaper than credits in forints, but with the crisis the value of the forint declined and nowadays 1 euro costs 300 forints, as opposed to the 250 before the crises. Many people are unable to service their debts, partly because of the increased mortgage, partly because they have lost employment. The upper middle class (who is wealthy enough to buy themselves out) was able to buy themselves out of their debts at a discount price (while poorer people did not have the means to do so).
But also the churches considered these credits to be a good opportunity, and although they are not loosing their only abode, Fidesz MP Mr János Lázár, close associate to the prime minister suggested the state should take over the churches’ foreign currency debts. Which would mean another couple of thousand million taxpayer money for the churches.

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