Secular Hungary

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Creationist methods against linguistics

In Hungary, it's not only creationists and ID-people who try to use the law and the media as a stage for their issues instead of scientific debates. The relatively new Jobbik, a political party on the far right (which is sometimes called fascist) has launched a petition against something they call "Finno-Ugrian theory of origin", in order to force "the heritage of Hunor and Magor" into the schoolbooks.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Ad hominem for criticism

Hungarian sceptics were quite delighted to hear that a TED-conference was being organised in Hungary in cooperation with the weekly HVG. They were also quite surprised when they saw that the programme contained István Tasi [ishtvan tashee], whose ideas they know but to well. His book about "biology" is available in English, too (he also claims the book was a finalist at the USA Book News 2009 Best Book Award, though it seems each title paid for being listed becomes a finalist there). As the title of his presentation was identical with the title of his book, the sceptics wrote an open letter to the organisers, suggesting not that they cancel his presentation, but that the topic was changed to something more in line with his career, such as religion (their letter is available also in English The organisers and Tasi said that this was a misunderstanding and the presentation was going to be about religion, anyway, and everything seemed to be all right.
Now, three months later,

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Last year, a reformed bishop suggested that the churches receive back not only their buildings, but also the arable land that was taken away from them after WWII (the catholic church used to be one of the biggest land owners until them). The question is being discussed (not too vividly, however) in the intellectual weekly 'És' ('And'--its real name is 'Élet és irodalom', i.e. 'Life and Literature', but I have not once heard its whole name and it's referred to even in writing as 'És').
Csaba Fazekas and György Gábor argue that the churches did not own their estates but received them for use only by the kings, who paid them for their services to society through providing them with a revenue from these estates. I.e. they did not receive any property rights but only the rights to the net revenue drawn from the estates. Accodring to them, one of course could argue that the churches get back their land, but this would mean that all state funding would have to cease completely.;24710

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The bishop's wife files for divorce

Basically, this is of course a private issue, were it not for her husband, László Tőkés. Tőkés is a well known bishop of the reformed church, and a member of the European Parliament for Romania (he is a member of the Hungarian minority in Transsylvania), and he played an important role in the Romanian revolution in 1989. He is also well known for promoting "traditional family values" -- which he seems not to apply to himself, however, if we believe Edit Joó Tőkés, who allegedly has also written a letter to the head of the European Parliament complaining about the lifestyle of her husband, who did not handle discreetly his love affairs in Brussels and Strasbourg. Mrs Tőkés complained that her husband communicated with her and their three children through formal letters, and also required her to keep a record of any money spent - backing her accounts with receipts even for the smallest items. According to Romanian newspapers there was a scandal already in 1999, when Mrs Tőkés caught her husband having sex with his lover on his bishop's office desk.

In June 2008, Mr Tőkés attacked a Hungarian member of the European Parliament, Mrs Madga Kosáné Kovács in her absence, because a few weeks earlier she informed the parliament about church attempts to interfere in forthcoming legislation extending some rights to gay couples and dared to call the head of the European Commission, Mr Barroso to stand up for the principle of secular state and for European values. Mr Tőkés called Mrs Kosáné Kovács a postcommunist, stated that the true European values are protestant (he used the word 'keresztyén' referring to protestant christianism) and suggested the parliament to invite pope Benedict XVI. (It's not clear if Mr Tőkés knows that Benedict XVI. does not consider his church a true one.)

The Kósáné-Tőkés dispute: Mrs Kósáné Kovács: and Mr Tőkés: and
As Mrs Kósáné Kovács was absent, her colleague replied, stating that Mr Tőkés's attack was inappropriate and disgusting: