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Hungary’s constitution: pro-life, but no recognition for Islam, ‘smaller Catholic orders’

January 04, 2012

The new Hungarian constitution, which protects life from the moment of conception and bans same-sex marriage, will also have an impact upon religious freedom.

Writing in The New York Times, Kim Lane Scheppele, director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, says that the new constitution, which took effect on January 1, discriminates against Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and several Protestant denominations, as well as against many Catholic religious orders.

Scheppele writes:

What does the law on churches do? It creates 14 state-recognized religions, and decertifies the rest. On January 1, over 300 denominations lose their official status in Hungary--including their tax exemptions and their abilities to run state-funded schools.

While most of the denominations are tiny, many are not. Among the religions that will no longer be able to operate with state approval are all versions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Baha’i, as well as many smaller Catholic orders including the Benedictines, Marists, Carmelites and Opus Dei, and a number of major Protestant denominations including Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Methodists, and all but one of the evangelical churches. One each of the orthodox, conservative and liberal Jewish synagogues are recognized; but all other Jewish congregations are not.


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  • Posted by: ColmCille - Jan. 06, 2012 4:57 PM ET USA

    Sounds "great?" How can it be great if some Catholic orders aren't recognized (while some Protestant groups are)? If Hungary were truly Catholic in government, culture and social institutions, and chose to legally recognize only Catholicism (while tolerating other religions), that's fine. As in Medieval Europe, legal equality (or tolerance of formal heresy) can destroy the very foundation of a Catholic state. But that's not what is happening. The life and marriage provisions sound good, though.

  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Jan. 05, 2012 2:37 PM ET USA

    As a pro-lifer and a 110% Roman Catholic, this sounds great to me. But as we say at Zucotti Park, it isn't FAIR! : )