Thursday, 5 January 2012

Magyar unease

The late Lord Soper was not so much a 'ranting Methody' as a member of the liberal establishment, a mainstay of QT and Any Questions, a prolific columnist and the public face of Methodism. I'd give a lot to be able to hear his views on the new Hungarian constitution. Surely he couldn't argue against the Fidesz party's explicit references to God in the new constitution, nor against the party's "Family, Home, Work, Health and Order" mantra that saw it elected with over a two-thirds majority? Or perhaps he could. 

Fidesz doesn't particularly like Islam. Nor is it keen on the US cults now making inroads into Eastern Europe - the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Scientologists. So part of the new constitution is a restriction that limits the benefits enjoyed by churches to those which have been active in Hungary for at least ten years and have at least 1,000 members. Others are not illegal, you understand, just unable to enjoy the same tax breaks and benefits as the Catholics and the Jews. Amongst the religions unable to meet the bar are the Methodists. I'm sure Donald Soper could have made a case that this was de facto illegality, but it just scrapes inside the provisions of the European Convention with regard to Freedom of Religion. And this is typical of much of the new Magyar constitution; you have the feeling they wanted to go further. Requiring all media to register with the government, including those with an exclusively online presence, is just a fag paper away from requiring bloggers to obtain State licences and a potential breach of Freedom of Expression provisions. 

As in previous posts on this, I'm not condemning Fidesz. I'm just uneasy.   


Edward Spalton said...

"Travaille, Famille, Patrie" was the slogan of the French Vichy regime - not objectionable in itself but for what it covered up.

The position of "cults" and minority religious groups seems to be similar to that in Germany.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"Family, Home, Work, Health, and Order"?

I feel a Godwin moment coming on.

Fidesz are probably a sign of things to come: we'll see more of them, and people like them, if the EU continues to overturn democracy across the continent.

Something like this will eventually sweep away people like Baroso, Ashton, and Rompy-Pompy; I struggle to decide which I dislike more, but on balance it's probably the EU lot.

Nick Drew said...

when the EU is next grovelling in Beijing for help, one of the Chinese conditions will be registration of all media

they will be knocking on an open door

Anonymous said...

We are in a civilisationl war, and I expect some restrictions on some types of movements.

Elby the Beserk said...

Lord Soper was a governor at the school I was at (a Methodist foundation). Whilst never that enamoured of the hierarchy of religions, I like the simple attitude of the Methodists and their quiet work in the community.

Soper would preach now and again, and was even to a callow teenager very fine. I am sure he would have had much to say on this decision.

France to act against cults - Scientology is banned there. As it should be here. It's a pyramid scheme dressed up as something else. As is Landmark. Organisations to empty suckers' pockets.

Greg Tingey said...

Elby the berserk ...
ALL religions are scams to empty suckers pockets.
And killers and tortures as well - why did you think the communist part was so closely modelled on its' theological rival, the catholic churtch?
Mirror-images of each other.

As for Hugary, this lot are a not-so-pale shadow of Arrow Cross - look them up.

Anonymous said...

This has been coming for a while now. The unrelenting march of Islam in predominently Christian counties; backed by Liberalists from unaccountable, unelected institutions...

This is the backlash against the EU and outside control of ones own country. Maybe Fidesz is wrong in some respects but I can't help feeling that Hungarians sleep more easily, safe in their own parish these days.

Coney Island

outsider said...

Maybe, for once, this shows the good side of the EU. Nation states can still express their different social attitudes but within basic common standards. The Hungarian government came under pressure to modify some of its measures when it had the Presidency, which brings both responsibility and accountability.
Since a hefty proportion of Hungarians live in neighbouring countries, I cannot see control of internet publication getting very far, even if the ECHR keeps its nose out.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous from Coney Island:

Hungarians are not sleeping better with the countless new laws passed by Fidesz. Compared to the other parties, it is quite popular, but that's not saying much. Recent polls show that a very large number of Hungarians are disillusioned with all parties. Fidesz would get support from maybe 36% of the current electorate.

Many blogs are filled with dedicated Fidesz supporters, but that reflects the highly partisan and divisive nature of Hungarian society. Fidesz supporter that I know seem quite unaware that many, many Hungarians are frightened and furious at the current government.

Fidesz and Jobbik (which is further to the right) tend to be angry at Jews and not at Muslims. One shouldn't assume that the fault lines are the same as Britain or other European countries.