Hungary: New church law is worse that the first


Here we present a quotation from the conclusion of an article by Dr. David Baer printed in the Hungarian Spectrum about unsettling results of legislation enacted by the Orban regime.

“To sum up the obvious, Hungary’s new church law treats religious communities in a completely arbitrary manner by assigning rights and privileges on the basis of state discretion. The transitional provisions reproduce the legal situation created by the first law, and hence repeat rather than correct the human rights violations identified by the European Court of Human Rights. Churches deregistered in 2012 will be treated as Religious Associations, regardless of their objective characteristics, while churches which kept their legal status in 2012 will continue on as Recognized Churches, regardless of their objective characteristics. The middle tiers enumerated in the law will be empty, and the actual classification of churches in Hungary will bear no resemblance to the legal conception set forth in the law. The church law itself describes a land of make believe, one that disguises the government’s enormously arbitrary treatment of religious groups. Like its predecessor, the new church law will certainly be challenged in the courts, and one easily imagines it will again be found to violate the right of religious freedom. Much less clear, however, is whether any of this matters. The Orbán regime has been flaunting European norms and the rule of law for close to a decade. Those in Hungary bearing the brunt of the regime’s oppressive tactics may soon lose their war of attrition.”


See the full article here:

H. David Baer (, Pastor Gerhard A. and Marion Poehlman Professor in Theology at Texas Lutheran University, is the foremost American expert on Hungarian religious freedom (or its lack thereof) over the last 70 years. His book, The Struggle of Hungarian Lutherans under Communism, was the result of research in Hungary between 1995 and 1998. In 2007, as a Fulbright Fellow, he taught for a semester at Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church. During the academic year 2013-2014 he returned to Hungary to study the state of religious freedom under Viktor Orbán’s regime and, as he puts it, “the unsettling results” of his research were published in a bilingual, English-Hungarian book: Essays in Defense of Religious Freedom / A vallásszabadság védelmében.


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