Secular Hungary

Monday, 24 May 2010

Equal and more equal citizens

As I mentioned, Hungary held elections in April. While we are still wating for the new government to take over, the parliament is already up and working, and the Society for Freedom Rights is doing their work: as they pointed out, the preambulum of one of last week's bills goes as follows: "We, the members of the parliament of the Republic of Hungary, those who believe that God is the ruler of history and those who endeavour to understand history from other sources..." ("Mi, a Magyar Köztársaság Országgyűlésének tagjai, azok, akik hiszünk abban, hogy Isten a történelem ura, s azok akik a történelem menetét más forrásokból igyekszünk megérteni…"). This is not quite in line with the Hungarian constitution,
which stipulates the division between churches and the state and does not leave place for making a difference based on religious affiliation or non-affiliation.
But then, of course, the designated prime minister, Viktor Orbán has already made clear that he wants to draw a new constitution. The present one was made in 1949, which was the year of communist takeover, and while it was amended to suit the needs of a democracy, it still bears the "stigma" of its birth year. Orbán has also stated that he considers the Polish constitution a perfect model. Contrary to the Hungarian one, the Polish one is somewhat ambiguous about the separation of church and state as well as about state neutrality on religious issues.
The Polish constitution starts like this: "We, the Polish Nation - all citizens of the Republic, Both those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty, As well as those not sharing such faith but respecting those universal values as arising from other sources..." While this may sound fine at first, and par. 2 of article 25 does say that "Public authorities in the Republic of Poland shall be impartial in matters of personal conviction, whether religious or philosophical, or in relation to outlooks on life, and shall ensure their freedom of expression within public life", the rest of paragraph 25 cannot be considered neutral: par. 1, 3 and 5 only mention churches and religious organisations but not to non-religious organisations promoting the theoretically equal  non-religious outlooks on life, and par. 4 even binds the state to conclude a treaty with the Vatican.

Our future seems quite clear.

UPDATE (May 26th):  Meanwhile another MP, Zoltán Kőszegi, stated in a debate on whether holocaust denial should be punished that 'If we punish the denial of something, according to my feelings this should be denying the existence of God' ("Ha valaminek a tagadását büntetjük, akkor szívem szerint elsősorban az istentagadást kezdeném el büntetni...").
Meanwhile, we also got through the debate of the gorvernment programme for the next four years. Orbán managed to keep gods out of it (besides anything concrete enough to hold him accountable later), with one exemption: for some reason he chose to cite from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburgh Address that was also selected by Barack Obama for his inauguration ceremony: '...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.' ("...ez a nemzet Isten uralma alatt újjászülessék a szabadságban, és hogy az állam, mely a népé, a nép által és a népért van, ne tűnjék el a föld színéről").
By the way, there's quite a debate about it, and I'm glad to say that many do speak out against it.