Hungary Launches “Official Assault” on Methodist Church
ICC Note: Hungary is being called out by a prominent U.S. lawmaker for it’s latest attempt to regulate faith groups. A major church in Hungary was “stripped” of it’s registered status by a new religion law and is now being investigated by the government after filing an application to register. The new religion law is viewed by many Christians in the nation as a step backwards towards the repression of the Communist era.
12/16/2013 Hungary (BosNewsLife) – A senior Democratic member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has warned that a Hungarian government investigation into a key evangelical church “opens the door” to communist-style “repressive measures” against faith groups.
In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife early Monday, December 16, Senator Ben Cardin said he was disturbed that Hungary’s center right leadership is “launching an investigation into the Methodist Evangelical Church, a church persecuted during communist times.
“The denomination, officially known in Hungary as the ‘Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship’ (HEF), “is known for its outreach to Roma, work with the homeless and is one of the largest charitable organizations in Hungary,” Cardin told the Senate.
It was among “hundreds of religious groups stripped of official recognition” in this former communist nation, after Hungary’s new religion law was rushed through parliament by supporters of the ruling Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, he noted.
“The church has now complied with submitting the necessary number of supporters required by the law and, as a reply, the government has announced an unidentified ‘expert’ will conduct an investigation into the church’s beliefs and tenets,” the senator added.
In a statement, Hungary’s Ministry for Human Resources confirmed that the investigation would focus on “evaluating whether the church’s activities are primarily of a religious nature.”
The investigation is also aimed at uncovering “whether the church complies with its own beliefs and rituals, and whether the church has maintained an active congregation over the past 20 years in Hungary,” the Ministry said, citing regulations introduced in 2011 and 2013.
Pastor Gábor Iványi, condemned the latest “official assault” on his Methodist church, which claims to have at least 18,000 members.