Secular Hungary

Secular Hungary

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The new ‘Church Law’

Among many other issues, also the new Hungarian church law has received much criticism, while the government denies that the new law limits the freedom to religion. They are right: it does not violate the freedom to religion. Anyone is free to practice their religion as long as it doesn’t violate the constitution. The law fails to guarantee the freedom from religion, and it violates the principle of the equality of all citizens regardless of their religious convictions. Read more of this post


Christmas present for journalists on hunger strike: a fence

A bit off topic, but important if you want to know what’s going on in Hungary: Balázs Nagy Navarro and his colleagues have been on hunger strike for more than two weeks now in front of the main building of the Hungarian State Television. Nagy Navarro has already in earlier years spoken up whenever politics tried to influence the media, and he went on hunger strike when the state tv earlier this month blurred Read more of this post

No agnostics in Hungary

Census is up and running in Hungary, and as I mentioned earlier, due to an intervention of the former president, László Sólyom, the Statistics Office has to ask about religion, though answering is not compulsory this time, either. The Catholic church and one of the Jewish communities have launched campaigns to reach not really closely affiliated people, but there’s also a Facebook event that calls Jedis to arms.
The question itself is not too badly phrased, asking „What religious community or church do you feel you belong to?.
The online version offers first a long list of religious communities, taken from the free text answers given in the last census and the tax office’s database that contained all religious communities that were entitled until now to receive 1% of income taxes. Anyway, the Catholic church protested that one has to chose either Roman Catholic or Greek Catholic (the Hungarian term for Greek rite), so a „Catholic” without adjective has been added. As to the Lutherans, they find it will confuse their flock to find four synonyms of their denomination.
As a second answer, the questionnaire offers „No religious affiliation”, and as a third item, „Atheist”. So at least, unaffiliated believers can tick no affiliation with good conscience, and the division is clearly between religious affiliation, unaffiliated and atheist.
But no jedis, and no agnostics.

2011 in Hungary

On new year’s eve, the president of Hungary, Mr Pál Schmitt has signed the new media law, which has already received much criticism also internationally.
The main points of criticism are the following: Read more of this post

By the grace of god

We not only have a new government, we’ll also get a new president soon. Though the Hungarian president’s function is mostly representational, one of his duties is to ensure that all new laws respect the constitution, i.e. he’s supposed to act as one element of the checks and balances. He (there has never been a she yet) is elected for a period of five years by the parliament (while the parliament’s period is four years), and the term of the present one, Mr László Sólyom expires in August.
The ruling party, Fidesz, decided to propose Mr Pál Schmitt as president, who used to be a world class fencer. He also was head of the Hungarian Olympic Committe, when the committe decided (against the wish of the athletes) to boycott the 1984 games in Los Angeles, and he acted as director of the posh Astoria Hotel and — also during the communist era — as a state secretary. However, this career path did not pose an obstacle to a party career in the otherwise very vocally anti communist Fidesz. The crucial factor for the continuity of his career obviously is his widely known lack of any spine whatsoever.
Still, he does not credit Fidesz for his new vocation: “And if God has entrusted me with presidency, I will do it and will be up to it, together with my wife, the first lady.” (“S ha már a jóisten rám testálja az elnökséget, csinálni, bírni fogom, a feleségemmel, a first ladyvel együtt.”)

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