Secular Hungary

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Jesus Is Not Good Enough

A conservative parents’ association called National Association of Hungarian Parents (Magyar Szülők Országos Szervezete) has made quite a row this week in Hungary. When conservative Fidesz took over government in 2010, they handed over educational, cultural, social and health issues to their coalition partner, the Christian Democrats (KDNP), who do their bet to adjust these policies to their priorities. From September 2013, denomination religious education will become gradually compulsory at state schools, and children of non-religious parents or of parents belonging to a denomination not recognized by the state are required to take courses in ’morals’ (not ’ethics’) taught by teachers who have taken a 60-hour-course delivered also by denominational colleges. The president of the association, Mr Sándor Keszei announced that these courses in morals should not be taught by persons who are unmarried or have divorced, who have no children and who drink, smoke, pursue aberrant sexual practices (he didn’t give a definition) or watch sex movies. In other words, according to him, even Jesus is not apt to teach morals, not to speak of catholic priests… Mr Keszei committed the mistake to participate in Ms Olga Kálmán’s interview show, who is renown for her polite persistence. This put Mr Keszei in quite an awkward situation, since it turned out that he himself lives in a patchwork family, having divorced and remarried, and still does not think himself incapable of raising his children. At the end of the show, he withdrew the statement.
Unfortunately, this is not the end: Mr Keszei is member of the board which decides on the state funding of non-denominational private schools—denominational private schools automatically receive state funding. The board consists of five members: besides Mr Keszei and three officials from the ministry, another NGO representative participates: Ms Julianna Gärtner, who represents the Association of Christian Intellectuals (Keresztény Értelmiségiek Szervezete) led by the highly conservative Catholic priest Zoltán Osztie, who e.g. believes non-catholic Christian communities are not ‘churches’ in the ‘real’ sense of the word.


Christian Values: Blame The Messenger

While most international papers have written about the Hungarian president, Mr Pál Schmitt (if you’re interested in the details, check The Contrarian Hungarian’s blog), much less has been written about the reactions of Hungarian Christians. The head of the Christian Intellectuals’ Association (Keresztény Értelmiségiek Szövetsége, I don’t know if they have an official English name), an influential group near the Catholic church, Mr Zoltán Osztie, issued a statement declaring that it is not the doctoral degree that is at stake, but “well known circles” are stageing a hunt against Hungary, and this “group with political motifs is steering the behaviour of the doctors’ senate [sic] and the rector at Semmelweis Medical University”.  According to a blogger, the Christian Democrat Party’s (KDNP) Tatabánya group drew parallels between Mr Pál Schmitt’s situation and the good friday passion of Jesus Christ (which I, as an atheist, find rather blasphemous), while the head of its Budapest group, Mr Botond Szalma, was threatened with consequences by his party elders for his suggestion on Monday morning that Mr Schmitt should resign.
Of course the issue of Christianity and morals is an issue mainly because Mr Schmitt himself finds them important: according to himself, his presidency came from God, and he repeated this in his goodbye speech, too. One of his first trips took him to the head of the Catholic church, and the church itself was always grateful for his support. Mr Schmitt lived his interpretation of Christian values not only by copying the monks copying, but also by not restricting his male, hm, affection to his wife and according to certain rumours even donating the gift of maternity to another woman.
But I won’t deprive you of this masterpiece of Hungarian Christian intellectuals, from the pen of dr Zoltán Osztie:
“As the head of the Christian Intellectuals’ Association I raise my voice against the howling injustice and the hate speech mongering that have culminated these days.
It has become evident in the eyes of all my thinking compatriots that the events of the last days are not about the dissertation of the president of the republic. It hurts – and it reflects the situation of the intelligentsia – that those who speak speak only about the consequences but not about the reasons. The doctoral dissertation is only a pretext for the manhunt waged by certain well-known circles against our country and our people.
Who are these circles? Those, who for instance are represented by the activists of the One Million for Hungarian Press Freedom who are financed from abroad in order to disrupt our country with anarchist actions. Their quality is determined by the symbolic figure (Dopeman) elected by themselves.
A politically motivated anarchist group steers the behaviour and the decisions of the doctors’ senate [sic] and the rector of Semmelweis Medical University. Is Hungarian science really in a crisis? Not at all! In whose interest is it to blow this question out of dimension? Who is it who dug out and attacked this doctoral thesis? In whose interest was it to wage another angry and well aligned attack against us instead of standing by our statesmen in the running fire from outside? What right to speak have those have robbed our country for their own profit and by orders from outside, when they have people’s blood on their hands and scores of families went bankrupt because of them. To cover up their deeds they call for moral relativism. their words have no credibility! If we have to be full of shame for anything, it is that they still may participate in political life.
Enough of the alien-hearted traitors who – as members of an aggressive minority – conduct their hate-mongering campaign without inhibitions. It was they who legislated against hate speech, and they themselves fail the law uninhibited. From this, we know them and their intentions.
I call chiefly on the Hungarian intellectuals, the public figures responsible for the fate of the nation to assess the connections behind the processes!
Budapest, 2 April 2012
Dr. Zoltán Osztie”
Meanwhile I hear that Mr Schmitt intends to sue the university for taking away his degree (which is, by the way, not a PhD, but a doctor universitatis) and the right wing press tries to blame former prime minister Mr Ferenc Gyurcsány for whatever. He seems to serve as some kind of universal scapegoat for the ruling party.
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