By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife-Columns) — Sitting on his throne overlooking the Danube river Viktor Orbán wanted more. Hungary’s prime minister and uncrowned king realized it wasn’t enough that his deep bowing servants in parliament agreed to stifle the press with a media law.
Yes, his subjects would soon read, hear and view the palace’s approved messages and programs. And King Orbán’s Constitution — also rubber stamped — limits the way the highest court operates to further ‘guide’ citizens and future governments, if any.
But streamlining where Hungarians go for spiritual guidance proved more complicated.
The partly Oxford-educated leader isn’t exactly a King James I of England under whose leadership the acclaimed King James Bible Version was conceived.
So he stood up and looked at the crown of his nation’s first King Stephen in the parliament building. He scrached his head and came up with an idea: It was time for a new strict church law.
His hunderds of parliamentary footsoldiers quickly approved the King Orbán’s Church Version on July 12. Just in time for their eagerly awaited, tax-payers paid, long summer holiday to exotic destinations.
The law recognizes only 14 of hunderds of religious groups as churches. Hungary, also known as Orbanistan, is still a member of the European Union. So he can’t make police raid unregistered churches like the old days when this was a Soviet satellite state.
But taking away their status silences many. It impacts tens of thousands of deeply impoverished Hungarians who rely on state-sponsored cherished social services of these, now illegal, churches.
The law is seen by critics as an effort by King Orbán’s government to control where people worship.
“Never before has a member state of the EU so blatantly dared to go against the principles of freedom of beliefs, equality before the law, and separation of church from state,” wrote former dissidents in a letter to the European Union. “These are all established fundamental rights in our common Europe.”
Among those targeted are evangelical churches who do full immersion water baptism. No reaction yet from long vacationing EU officials. They have been spotted in water too. In swimming pools, that is.
(BUDAPEST BRAINWAVE is a regular opinionated column of BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos on key developments in Hungary, where BosNewsLife is based. The column was launched following international concerns over a fresh crackdown on new-found freedoms in the region. Opinions of BosNewsLife-Columns do not necessarily reflect the views of online news agency BosNewsLife or its parent with the same name. If you like to support this project you can donate via http://bosnewslife.com/donations )