Secular Hungary

Secular Hungary

Tag Archives: freedom of religion and conscience

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.


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.

Another Billion For Churches

The Hungarian government is giving away 500 million forint each to the reparation of the Calvinist church at Kalvin tér in Budapest and to the baroque catholic dome in Kalocsa. This is (again) financed from the funds set aside for emergencies.

(Text of the government decision:, see p. 2130)

Not Enough Devotion

Hungarians are learning the hard way that religious education is curbing teachers’ religious freedom. Two teachers have been dismissed int he Hungarian town of Balatonfüred, allegedly because during their participation in Sunday family worship they were not „devotional” enough.
Their school was taken over from the local government by the reformed church last year, and in the takeover process the local church promised to ensure religious freedom. However, their wording was „we don’t want to make a seminary out of this, but we want to raise virtuous, faithful Hungarians in the broadest and most noble sense, without regard to denominational boundaries”, which does show that their notion of religious freedom does not include the freedom not to be religious.
Since 2011, many local governments have handed over their schools to churches. Their incentive was often financial: schools of local governments received only half as much subsidy from the central budget as compared to church schools, and while before, local governments had to finance any school handed over to a church for another five years, this limit was abolished by the conservative government. The plans to centralise state education added momentum to this trend, since some local authorities hoped to maintain some influence over their schools by handing over their school to a church.

Government: 90% of Taxpayers Are Church Members

The Hungarian parliament has modified law CXXIV of 1997 (in the 129th paragraph of law CCXII of 2012 which deals with various issues regarding the national health service), which now rules that 0,9% of income taxes are to be handed over to the churches. Similarly to the Italian system, Hungarian taxpayers offer 1% of their income tax to a religious community of the secular alternative(s) provided by the state (another 1% is to be offered to any civil organisation). Despite the media efforts of the bigger churches to get not only their follower’s tax but also that of the wider public, taxpayers are not very keen on dedicating their taxes. In 2011, 38% of taxpayers offered 1% of their income tax to one of the religious communities (this was before the number of possible beneficiaries was cut down to 31), 9% preferred the secular alternative, and 53% decided not to decide. Their 1% is now practically given to the religious communities enjoying church privileges according to the new church law.

UPDATE: sorry, I got the percentage wrong. Out of 3,44 million taxpayers, 1047906 dedicated 1% of their tax to a church, i.e. 30,47%.

Registration of Jews (and anyone else, too)

There has been great outrage about MP Márton Gyöngyösi’s (of the near-neo-nazi Jobbik) proposal to register Jews, and a big rally against antisemitism was held last Sunday in Budapest with speakers from both opposition parties and the governing Fidesz (though prime minister Viktor Orbán is refusing to condemn Mr Gyöngyösi’s speech). But those who are outraged now forget that Fidesz has already decided some time ago to register people’s religion. Read more of this post

Failed ambitions

It seems that the baptists won’t be able to take over all secular schools in Vác, after all, but according to the weekly Magyar Narancs, it was not only parents’ and teachers’, but the other denominations’ protest that torpedoed the baptists’ ambitions to take over the education system of the town, which is a catholic bishop’s seat with faith schools from kindergarten to teacher training college. Read more of this post

Vác: Eliminating Secular Schools

The Christian Democrat mayor of Vác, a town with 35 thousand inhabitants some 30 kilometers north of Budapest has announced on Monday that all schools and kindergartens of the local government will be handed over to the Baptist church. Vác is a traditionally catholic town, with an own catholic bishop, catholic primary and secondary schools as well as a catholic teacher training college.
While until a year ago, the motivation for handing over local schools was also financial (church schools get twice as much money from the state budget, while local governments and NGOs have to finance one half of the running costs by themselves), the state is just in the process of centralising education (the details are not quite clear yet).
Mr Attila Fördős is planning to hand over five primary and 4 secondary schools to the baptists, as well as some kindergartens. This move is affecting several thousands of children as parents as well as thousand teachers.
The local socialists are asking Mr Fördős what will become of the children who do not wish to attend a church school and of those teachers who do not want to submit to church teachings (according to the law, sectarian schools are entitled to enforce their teachings with pupils and staff).
The baptists try to calm down the public by saying that they agree to take over only schools where two thirds of staff and parents approve of this. But: where will the rest teach and learn?

Venetian Blinds

The Venice Commission has published their report on the new Hungarian church law last week. The commission examined the text of law CCVI of 2011 solely regarding the freedom to profess religion failing both to take into consideration aspects of freedom from religion and the context of the law. Read more of this post

Religious freedom in the Hungarian constitution

Since they won the elections in 2010, the governing party, Fidesz has received much criticism for destroying the checks and balances of the Hungarian political system, including the media. Also the new constitution (called ‘basic law’ on the request of the far right Jobbik) has been widely criticised, but mostly for its regulations regarding state institutions. In my post, I will stick to the question of religious freedom. Read more of this post

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