Budapest, May 23rd , 2013
In the parliamentary debate on the modification of Church Law Jobbik, for the third time following the cases in June 2011 and December 2011, required a vote by name demanding that Faith Church be deprived of its church status. Two thirds of the representatives of the government and those of the opposition present did not support the proposal – similarly as in the case of previous votes on the issue.
The initiative being part of Jobbik's hate campaign and the vote conducted yesterday on its basis conflict with the principle of the separation of church and state granted by the Fundamental Law, as well as with the regulations of operative church law concerning the elimination of churches. A church can only be eliminated by Parliament upon the initiative of the government – by way of erasing it from the appendix of law – and only in a case when the activity of the church conflicts with Fundamental Law, based on principled opinion of the Constitutional Court. In the present case it was not the government but the far right wing of it that initiated the vote, based not on the opinion of the Constitutional Court, but citations of their own views, which are gravely offensive to the church, as well as untruthful and slanderous. With this action Jobbik has proved itself to be anti-religious besides being racist, since along with the Jewish community and the Romas, Faith Church, a recognized church, is also subject to their continuous political attacks.
The very fact that this obviously unlawful procedure could take place in the Hungarian Parliament for the third time supports our criticism previously made against the church law, namely that the decision to recognize and eliminate churches taken from the courts and given to a political body - the parliament - causes dependence on politics and legal uncertainty. There is still no legal guarantee that in certain cases this political power will not be misused. Should there be a guarantee of this kind, no such incident where an initiative aiming to eliminate a church, being unlawful as well as openly inciting – having not received the support of even one third of the members of the Committee on Human Rights in Parliament - could reach as far as the vote at a plenary meeting and that even the chance to decide on the existence of a given church could be mentioned.
The events referred to show that even recognized churches are exposed to political harassment*. Our church intends to draw the attention to the fact that it would serve social peace better and would comply with legal certainty if the legal status and activity of churches were protected by law.
* In Hungary following the adoption of a new Church law in 2011, 66 religious communities lost their Church status, which is from now on to be granted by Parliament on the basis of a two-third majority vote.
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