O nouă lege a cultelor stârnește vii dispute în Ungaria

Parlamentul ungar a aprobat o nouă lege a cultelor care va intra în vigoare începând cu 1 ianuarie 2012 în urma căreia vor fi recunoscute doar 14 comunități religioase. Printre aceste comunități se numără și Biserica Baptistă. Dintre comunitățile nerecunoscute fac parte, printre altele, Biserica Evanghelică Metodistă, Biserica Adventistă de Ziua a Șaptea, Biserica Penticostală și Armata Salvării. Biserica Adventistă de Ziua a Șaptea a protestat alături de alți activiști și apărători ai drepturilor omului împotriva legii. Conform unei scrisori deschise adresate Consiliului Uniunii Europene, semnată de foști membri ai opoziției liberale, legea încalcă libertatea religioasă. 

Dr Kalman Meszaros, Președintele Uniunii Baptiste din Ungaria, consideră legea binevenită întrucât guvernul a decis să trateze comunitatea baptistă la fel ca pe celelalte biserici istorice. Iar acest lucru este binevenit întrucât baptiștii au fost recunoscuți în Ungaria din 1895, iar predecesorii lor, anabaptiștii, au fost rpezenți începând cu 1523. Este regretabil, a afirmat Kalman Meszaros, că noua lege nu arată suficient interes pentru comunitățile religioase independente. Baptiștii din Ungaria sunt organizați în 368 de biserici locale care însumează un număr de 12 000 de credincioși.

Președintele comunității adventiste din Ungaria, Tamas Ocsai, este dezamăgit de noua lege mai ales că reprezentanții guvernului au promis anterior adventiștilor recunoaștere deplină. În momentul de față, comunitatea adventistă numără 4600 de membri în 110 biserici. Metodiștii au 2000 de membri în 34 de biserici. Conform declarațiilor lor, metodiștii vor continua să solicite recunoașterea oficială contând pe sprijinul bisericilor deja recunoscute.

Printre cele paisprezece culte religioase recunoscute în Ungaria se numără și trei comunități evreiești. Organizațiile religioase care vor dori să obțină recunoaștere oficială trebuie printre altele să fi existat de cel puțin 20 de ani în Ungaria și să respecte rpevederile constituționale. Actuala lege se aplică și în cazul orelor de religie din școli care sunt finanțade de către stat.

După intrarea în vigoare a legii se estimează că circa 300 de comunități și organizații religioase nu vor mai exista.

Ruben Ologeanu

Revista Crestinul Azi


    Recipients: Pál Schmitt, President of the Republic
    Victor Orbán, Prime Minister
    László Kövér, Speaker of the House
    László Szászfalvi, Under-Secretary of State
    Members of Parliament
    and the Constitutional Court of the Hungarian Republic
    Honourable Mr. President of the Republic, Prime Minister, Speaker of the House, Under-Secretary of
    State, Members of Parliament!
    Honourable Constitutional Court!
    We, the signatory denominations, jointly and uniformly intend to make our comments, objections, express
    our disappointment, dismay, concern and expectations and submit our petition to You as summarised below
    with respect to Act “C” of 2011 on the Right to the Freedom of Conscience and Religion and the Legal Status of
    Churches, Denominations and Religious Communities as adopted on 11th July 2011 and promulgated in no. 85. of
    the Hungarian Gazette of 19th July 2011 (hereinafter: new Ehtv.).
    We are testifying with respect and good conscience about the fact that during the recent 20-30 years besides
    working on the salvation of people, our Christian churches and congregations have served the entire Hungarian
    society and the common good via charity, social, cultural, educational, pedagogical, preventive and several other
    activities. We never abused the rights attached to our recognised status guaranteed by law. We have never had
    concern with the so-called “business church” abuses.
    We were dismayed to hear that in line with more than 250 other Christian churches and communities
    functioning honestly similarly to us, we were deprived of our recognised status with a stroke of the pen due to
    the adoption of the new law governing the churches. Thereby, the new Ehtv. undoubtedly enforces the
    suppression of the freedom of minority religions in striking collision with the norms of the European Court of
    Human Rights and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (hereinafter: OSCE).
    1. We deem that it violates the Constitution (Basic Law), since it contradicts:
    1.1. The basic principle of the separation of the state and the church, which is indispensably crucial in a
    state founded on the rule of law, set forth under the Constitution and stipulated under the Preamble
    and Para. (1) of Article 8 of the new Ehtv. as well as proclaimed nationally and internationally.
    1.2. the democratic and rule of law principle of the free exercise of religion set forth under the
    Constitution, the Preamble of the new Ehtv. as well as under the Universal Declaration of Human
    Rights and also declared by the European Union.
    2. Furthermore, the new Ehtv. also gives rise to ethical concerns by reason of the following:
    2.1. The new Ehtv. does not preclude, but creates the opportunity for “business,” corruption and money
    laundering with respect to the recognised churches and communities via extraordinarily extending
    the scope of rights of the churches to economic activities (see, Paras. (3) and (6)-(7) of Article 19,
    Paras. (4)-(5) of Article 20) and at the same time, it prescribes an extremely poor, ostensible and
    formal system of control pertaining merely to keeping the records (see, Paras. (1)-(2)-(3) of Article 21)
    and withdraws these churches and communities even from the controlling authority of the National
    Tax and Customs Office (the legal successor of the Tax and Financial Control Administration).
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 1 / 7
    2.2. The term of “registration according to separate law” under Para. (1) of Article 36 of the new Ehtv.
    is not unequivocal, which spreads confusion with respect to the legal succession of denominations
    forced to downgrade into associations, the stake of which is the preservation of their assets or
    their subjection to confiscation.
    2.3. The legislators gave unfair, ungrateful and eliminative answers to the members of denominations
    by depriving them of their recognised status, since their vast majority had voted the prevalent
    parliamentary majority confidence in 2010 and supported them to acquire two-thirds majority.
    Voters placed confidence in You so far as Your government is fair, lawful, democratic and respectful
    of acquired rights. The parliamentary majority shattered the confidence of the denomination
    members as voters by the unjustifiable and arbitrary repeal of their rights as members of religious
    communities, therefore, they violated the right to free exercise of minority religion within
    religious communities, which is unethical and simultaneously unconstitutional.
    1. Concerning unconstitutionality
    1.1.A We beg to draw Your attention to the fact that the adopted new Ehtv. on the whole is in contradiction with
    the mandatory basic principle of the separation of the state and the church as stipulated both under the
    currently effective Constitution and the new Basic Law taking effect on 01. 01. 2012 as well as under Para. (1)
    of Article 8 therein. Namely, instead of codifying principles, rules and conditions and committing the
    enforcement of these to the trust of independent courts and public prosecutors (which would be sine qua non
    in a democracy), Parliament (the highest organ of state power) specifies directly under the act just some of
    the hundreds of churches and religious communities and thereby violates the principle of the separation of
    the state and the church laid down under the Constitution (the effective one and the new Basic Law) as well
    as under international law (EU, OSCE, Universal Declaration of Human Rights etc.). A parallel example would be
    if banking law specified 5-10 banks and deprived the others of their rights as banks by parliamentary votes. Or
    if business law specified certain companies and downgraded the others into e.g. private entrepreneurships.
    Wouldn’t these measures violate the principle of the separation of the state and the business-financial sector?
    Although, those areas certainly abound in numerous abuses. If legislation cannot resort to such measures in
    the business and financial sectors for constitutional reasons, it could not do so under the law governing the
    churches considering primarily that the principle of the separation of the state and the church is set forth
    under the Constitution and highlighted under Para. (1) of Article 8 of the new Ehtv. Notwithstanding, if the
    state does so (as it did in case of the new Ehtv.), then the new Ehtv. is unconstitutional, if it is not, then either
    the Constitution or the new Basic Law is null and void or neither of them is valid.
    1.1.B Furthermore, we beg to note that if Parliament (as a branch of state power) surpasses its competence of
    codifying principles, rules and conditions and lays a claim to making decisions in religious issues, thereby,
    it not only violates the Constitution, but also deprives the denomination appealing for recognition and
    rejected via a parliamentary decision of the jurisdiction of remedy. An appeal could be lodged against a
    dismissal by a court, but not against the subjective decision of Parliament. Therefore, under the new
    Ehtv. no legal redress is available, which also makes it unconstitutional.
    1.1.C The preposterousness of the registration procedure will be outlined in the supplement to this declaration
    (see, “SUPPLEMENT”!), but in a summary we note that if the application of a denomination for registration
    is not adjudged on grounds of the fulfilment of legal conditions (in the matter of which independent courts
    should have jurisdiction), but it is the discretion of the Minister and the votes of the actual Parliament that
    will be determining, then the applicant – despite the fulfilment of the conditions – cannot be assured that
    its application will be approved, since it shall be subject to the number of representatives sitting in
    Parliament at the time of voting and other subjective conditions, therefore, meeting the requirements
    stipulated under the act becomes utterly inconsequential! If the applicant fulfils all legal requirements and
    its application would be adjudicated by a court, not by Parliament, then as we formerly mentioned the court
    would be obligated to enter it in the register. This would entail legal security and predictability, which
    constitute the criteria of the rule of law in all cases. If it is not the fulfilment of exact legal requirements
    that is guiding the approval of such an application, but the (unpredictable) actual proportion of sitting
    representatives and their subjective decision, then this procedure is unpredictable, does not guarantee
    legal security, therefore, it is anti-democratic and consequently, unconstitutional!
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 2 / 7
    1.2.A We beg to draw Your kind attention to the fact that the new Ehtv. coerces to downgrade into
    associations hundreds of denominations registered before 1991 not having 1,000 members or those
    registered after 1991, which in compliance with the requirements of the new law had been engaged in
    primarily religious and denominational activities, while a great majority of them had performed public
    duties such as educational, social, charity, preventive and cultural etc. duties as secondary activities.
    Thereby, the new Ehtv. violates the constitutional principle of the free exercise of religion, since these
    denominations will in the future be able to function exclusively as associations, whereas regulations
    pertaining to associations do not regulate denominational activities such as the right to administer
    religious services, the right to the collection of donations (collecting box funds, donations from business
    and civil organisations etc.), the right to preaching the gospel publicly (in public spaces, educational
    institutions, prisons, hospitals, institutions for the disabled or the mentally handicapped etc.).
    Furthermore, regulations pertaining to associations do not specify the rights of priests, the labour law
    status of clergymen, educational opportunities for priests, opportunities for public duties and for the
    operation of public institutions, taxation rules and rights. Therefore, denominations which had been
    naturally and primarily engaged in religious activities, but requalified as associations via the forfeiture of
    the specified rights will be unable to legally pursue religious, scilicet, denominational activity pursuant
    to the regulations pertaining to associations, therefore, they will be discriminated against, paralysed
    and outlawed. This de facto verifies that the new Ehtv. violates the basic principle of the democratic rule
    of law set forth under the Basic Law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European
    Union, therefore, it is de facto unconstitutional.
    1.2.B The new Ehtv. further violates the constitutional principle of the right to the free exercise of religion by
    forcing the unrecognised denominations to assimilate into the framework of another denomination in
    order to maintain their free exercise of religion. The denomination that will not own up to that course of
    action for reasons of conscience may opt either for cessation or becoming an association, neither of which
    guarantee the opportunity for free exercise of religion (see, 1.2.A above), which is equally unacceptable
    and conflicts with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    2. Concerning ethical concerns:
    2.1.A We beg to note that contingent “business denominations” could have been identified by investigation
    ordered by the public prosecutor pursuant to the former Ehtv. To our knowledge, no such investigation had
    been instituted in re the organisations presumably abusing their recognised status as denominations,
    therefore, the termination of the recognised status of more than 250 Christian and other registered
    churches and communities pursuant to the new Ehtv. on such grounds seems to be unjustified and
    2.1.B By guaranteeing business-entrepreneurial activity for denominations and additionally introducing the
    scope and concept of “activities not qualifying as business-entrepreneurial activity” (see, Paras. (3), (6)-
    (7) of Article 19 and Paras. (4)-(5) of Article 20), the new Ehtv. not only establishes a new “ecclesiastical
    economic sector” as opposed the “lay (unreligious) economic sector,” but simultaneously grants it an
    unlawful economic competitive edge, since it withdraws the former one from the control of the National
    Tax and Customs Office (see, Paras. (1)-(2)-(3) of Article 21). By providing so, instead of terminating, the
    new Ehtv. legalises church “business” and opportunities for corruption and money laundering,
    furthermore, by channelling public funds into churches, it reinforces the interpenetration of the state
    and the church and on such grounds it extends the opportunities for corrupt practices, which conflicts
    with the intention of the legislator pronounced in declarations.
    To us, it is dismaying that prolonged and conscious elaboration of legislative intentions underlies this
    morally seriously disquieting, what’s more, unacceptable regulation.
    2.2 Para (1) of Article 36 of the new Ehtv. does not articulate explicitly whether the term of “registration
    under separate law” refers to statutes regulating associations, therefore, it gives rise to diverse
    interpretations in jurisdiction, thereby, it entangles the issue of legal succession in case of the
    denominations having forfeited their recognised status, which entails the severe risk of the loss of assets
    (confiscation) for them.
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 3 / 7
    2.3.A We are extremely disappointed, since the vast majority of the parishioners of denominations forfeiting
    their recognised status had contributed with their votes to setting up Parliament with a qualified majority
    of the parliamentary majority, whereas, the same parliamentary majority deprived significant masses of
    devout Christians, scilicet, their supporters retrospectively of their rights as members of denominations
    with a single stroke of the pen. We can’t consider this an honest and correct procedure.
    Thereby, the parliamentary majority did not only stamp on the confidence of voters as members of our
    religious communities by the arbitrary and retrospective withdrawal of the recognition of our status as
    churches, thereby, it has also violated the constitutional right to our free exercise of religion as religious
    communities, which is both unethical and unconstitutional.
    2.3.B Such immorality is further exacerbated by the fact that during drafting the new Ehtv. we received
    continual promises from Government for months insisting that “honestly functioning minor
    denominations have no reasons for fear, they won’t get a raw deal via the statute.” In view of the
    adopted new Ehtv. and our massive exclusion from the recognised status, we need to admit frankly that
    we have suffered a great disappointment with the credibility of Government. Our denominations were
    extremely sanctioned for no reasons. Consequently, in contradiction with the promises, minor
    denominations did get a raw deal.
    It is our conviction that the comments and objections above articulate the opinion and dismay of several times
    ten thousands of Hungarian Christians, therefore:
    We beg the Honourable Recipients as representatives of the different branches of state power to kindly
    terminate the unconstitutionality of Act “C” of 2011 on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and the
    Legal Status of Churches, Denominations and Religious Communities as well as its immoralities, its discrimination
    against minor denominations and religious communities and its conflict with the norms of OSCE, the European
    Union, The Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Organisation!
    Via our statement, we request the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of Act “C” of 2011!
    Given at Budapest, 10th August, 2011.
    Sincerely Yours,
    The signatory churches and their representatives below:
    APOSTOLI PÜNKÖSDI EGYHÁZ, SZIGETVÁR (Pentecostal Denomination)
    Pastor Zsolt Ginter
    Representative Lajos Tóth
    BUDAPESTI AUTONÓM GYÜLEKEZET (Autonomous Congregation)
    Representatives Ervin Piszter, Tamás Görbitz and Ferenc Takács
    Representative Péter Soós, pastor István Szabó
    Representatives pastor József Tamás and László Keszler
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 4 / 7
    Representatives Sándor Bernáth and Ferenc Szemerédi
    Representative István Nagy
    Pastor István Bogdán
    Chairman Jenő Nagy
    Pastor Jenő Nagy
    Pastor Jeremiás Izsák-Bács
    Pastor Gábor Iványi
    Representatives Zsolt Gönczi and Zsolt Kispál
    OLAJFÁK GYÜLEKEZET (Congregation)
    Representatives Tibor Verebélyi and Zsolt Budai
    Pastor István Hajdu, Elders József Rusznyák and András Oláh
    Pastor Iván Folk
    Representative Péter Törőcsik
    Recent Signatories :
    Gábor Iványi Pastor, Magyarországi Evangéliumi Testvérközösség (Hungarian Evangelical Congregation)
    Zoltán Balázs Lencse Pastor, Őskeresztény Apostoli Egyház Jászladányi Gyülekezete
    József Rózsás Pastor, Őskeresztény Apostoli Egyház Sátoraljaújhelyi Gyülekezete
    János Széles Pastor, Őskeresztény Apostoli Egyház Kisgyőri Gyülekezete
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 5 / 7
    to Point 1.1.C of Part C) of the Declaration
    We consider the regulation concerning the registration of denominations expressly disquieting by reason of the
    Pursuant to Para. (1) of Article 9 and Para. (1) of Article 12 of Act 4 of 1990 on the Freedom of Conscience
    and Religion and on Churches (hereinafter: former Ehtv.), the registration of the denomination was adjudged via
    out-of-court proceedings by the County Court having jurisdiction or by the Metropolitan Court. The Court
    registered the denomination, if it met the criteria under Articles 8-10 of the former Ehtv. Pursuant to Article 11,
    the registration of the denomination could be rejected, if it did not fulfil the conditions under Article 8, or, if the
    founders did not meet the conditions under Articles 9-10. On the basis of the comparison of these rules, it can be
    unequivocally asserted that upon the registration of a denomination under the former Ehtv., the court had to
    examine the fulfilment primarily of administrative obligations (see, Articles 9-10) and from a legal point of view
    whether the religious activity was in conflict with the Constitution or other statute (Paras. (1)-(2) of Article 8).
    From the point of view of “religious life,” the court merely had to adjudge whether the members of the applicant
    shared the same articles of faith or whether they founded the denomination for the purpose of the exercise of
    religion, which could be obviously established on the basis of the joint signature of the necessary attendance
    sheet. Therefore, the fulfilment of the conditions necessary for the registration could be adjudicated by judges
    with legal qualifications. Furthermore, the former Ehtv. narrowed down the scope of action of the proceeding
    court by providing in its formerly mentioned Article 11 that the rejection of the registration of the denomination
    was admissible exclusively, if it did not fulfil Article 8 or the founders did not meet the conditions under Articles 9-
    10. We need to definitely note that the former Ehtv. by formulating primarily administrative rules for the
    foundation of denominations, it powerfully focused on the fulfilment of objective legal conditions by the
    denomination, but did not examine its faith, system, rites etc. In addition, it entrusted the examination to a legal
    forum, which was a guarantee of the rule of law considering that one of the spiritual bases of the lawful operation
    of the court consists in judicial independence. Consequently, the proceeding judge examined the fulfilment of the
    mostly administrative requirements disregarding political intentions. Thereby, the former Ehtv. guaranteed one of
    the most important criteria of the free exercise of religion: the equal conditions of the foundation of
    As opposed to this, the new Ehtv. expects not only the fulfilment of administrative requirements with
    respect to the foundation of denominations laid down under the specification of obligations, what is more, it does
    not entrust the examination of the fulfilment of the requirements to an independent forum, which is obvious on
    the basis of the order of the proceedings and the persons conducting the proceedings. Namely, pursuant to Paras.
    (1)-(2) of Article 14 of the new Ehtv. the application of the denomination for registration shall not be adjudged by
    an independent legal forum, scilicet, a court. Pursuant to Para. (4) of Article 11, the application shall be submitted
    to the Minister Responsible for Relations with the Churches, who shall table the application to Parliament
    pursuant to Para (1) of Article 16 in case the association fulfils the conditions set forth under Article 14. However,
    the Minister can by no means be considered to be an independent person, since he is a member of a governing
    Cabinet and is 100 p.c. politically prejudiced, therefore, the judgement of the application will be inevitably
    influenced by political motives or at least by dispositions. This fact in itself severely violates the constitutional
    principle of the freedom of religion, notwithstanding, if the examination would concern merely administrative
    conditions, that could narrow down the scope of political influence, since meeting the criterion concerning the
    number of members could hardly be ignored on political grounds. However, the criteria as we have mentioned
    are not restricted to administrative requirements. Namely, on the one hand Point a) of Para. (3) of Article 14
    stipulates that the applicant association should carry out religious activity, on the other hand Point b) provides
    that it should possess a confession of faith and rites incorporating the essence of its teaching. The examination of
    the former criterion could be acceptable in case the decision-maker is independent in view of the fact that that
    courts also used to draw the line between religious and other activities in several decisions. Whereas, Point b) of
    Para. (3) of Article 14 raises difficult theological questions, the subjection of these to political judgement in itself
    violates the constitutional principle of the right to the freedom of religion, furthermore, the examining person
    is not independent, but entirely politically influenced as we mentioned. In our view, it is unacceptable that a
    political leader, scilicet, a Minister should make a statement concerning what qualifies as the confession of
    faith or rite of a church, furthermore, whether the confession of faith and rite of an applicant incorporates the
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 6 / 7
    essence of its teachings, nonetheless, he is even entitled to make a decision whether to table the application to
    Parliament. This option entitles the political leader to reject the application on grounds which are indisputable.
    Namely, if the Minister rejects an application by arguing that the application does not circumscribe a confession
    of faith or rite or justifies the rejection by stating that the supplement of the application stipulated under Point a)
    of Para. (1) of Article 15 does not contain a confession of faith incorporating the essence of a teaching or it fails to
    summarise the main religious doctrines, on what grounds can the applicant refute this? These are purely
    theological issues and no political leader, neither Parliament, nor an independent Hungarian court should be
    competent to make decisions on these. Therefore, according to our opinion this should not be included in the
    In this context, we consider disquieting the regulation under Article 17 according to which the Minister may
    designate an expert pursuant to conditions specified under a separate statute to clarify whether the conditions
    related to religious activity pursuant to law are fulfilled, before he tables the application of the specific
    denomination to Parliament. On the one hand, in case of a dispute, exclusively one party, that is, the Minister can
    designate an expert, whereas, the applicant cannot, which severely violates the constitutional principle of
    equality before the law. On the other hand, it is not clear either, according to which separate statute can the
    expert be designated. Thirdly, it cannot be inferred from the quoted provision, on what issues can the expert
    make decisions (regarding that no expert is competent to clarify the existence of the condition under Point b) of
    Para. (3) of Article 14, since it is an “internal affair” of the applicant.)
    We also deem it disquieting that the establishment of the hazard to national security has become a matter
    of discretion, since in this case “no legal remedies are available,” either and the prevailing political elite may
    essentially establish independently concerning an applicant whether its functioning is hazardous from the point of
    view of national security. This is a further extremely flexible rule.
    Beyond these, if the applicant passes the first political screening, it will encounter the second one. Namely,
    if the applicant fulfils the legal conditions, its registration shall be subject to parliamentary votes, although the act
    does not specifically regulate this phase. Not a single section provides according to what kind of voting Parliament
    shall make a decision or whether it shall make a decision indeed, after the Minister has tabled the application of
    the church for registration pursuant to Para. (1) of Article 16 to Parliament.
    Uniform Declaration and Petition for Constitutional Review of the Signatory Churches Forfeiting their Recognised Status 7 / 7

  2. nu vad sursa de unde este luata stirea! Ce agentie de presa o furnizeaza? puteti sa imi spuneti macar hotararea legislativa cu pricina?

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