Secular Hungary

Friday, 8 October 2010

Hunting season

A whole lot of institutions has submitted their claims regarding the new constitutions to the committee preparing the text. Many of them seek to impose their particular views on all citizens, and to narrow down rights. Of course especially regarding people’s private lives.

The Lutheran church wants the constitution to protect monogamous marriage and family life. They do not accept same-sex marriage and believe that the present regulation (same-sex couples may enter registered partnerships) is enough to protect against discrimination.
The catholic church agrees with the need to provide special constitutional protection for the institution of marriage and family, especially those with many children.

The Christian Democrat Party (the one which gives the deputy prime minister while making it into the parliament only as an ally of the governing party Fidesz) has also asked the National Organisation of Big Families for their opinion. They wish the constitution to declare that marriage is a lasting bond between one man and one woman, with the aim to produce and raise children. They also want the state to take over the financial burden of raising children and suggest that the right to accommodation should be declared in the constitution. They also want to give the vote to children – it would be of course the parents who would vote on behalf of their children.

The catholic church also wants to forbid working on Sundays. According to their view this is needed for the protection of the family and religious freedom.

Several organisations want the holy crown mentioned in the constitution, the Lutherans suggest the following preamble: “The Hungarian people, thankful for the 1000 year history of Hungary symbolised by the pristine crown of the Hungarian kings...” [No mention of the word “saint” here, of course.] The right-wing Organisation of Hungarians Abroad and the Professors’ Batthyány Circle also suggest the constitution to refer to the crown. They also want to give more power to the president: if he believes a legislation to be contrary to the constitution, he cannot be forced to sign it.

The National Elderly Citizens Association, asked for their opinion by Fidesz, believes that the constitution has to refer to the crown in order to secure the continuity of the state. The new constitution should declare the freedom of the state and the freedom of the members of the Holy Crown. The latter are the members of the state-founder Hungarian nation where ever they live and national minorities as long as they live within the territory of Hungary. Anyone else can live only as a guest in Hungary.

As I’ve already mentioned, the State Audit Office also believes the constitution should refer to the crown.

As to the status of religious communities, the catholic church considers it important that the constitution guarantees that churches can operate independently, free from state intervention. Many aspects of their teachings could be present in the constitution, such as the respect for human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity, the rights of parents, the right to religious education and the freedom to establish schools.

The Lutherans wrote that they expect the new constitution to strengthen freedom of religion and conscience including the religious freedom of individuals and the autonomy of churches. They would be glad if the constitution also listed crucial values of Christian origin such as the protection of life and methods to ensure empathy towards each other and cooperation, as well as to organise community life. If these are present, it is not necessary to openly refer to Christianism and God.

The reformed churches (Calvinists) want more rigorous criteria for the state registration of religious communities. They also want to include a guarantee that state and church institutions get the same funding for public services. The Jewish community agrees with that.

The Jewish community wishes to include the ten commandments in the preamble, as well as the Judaeo-Christian roots of the Hungarian culture. They also want to include collective rights, such as the right to human dignity of groups.

Actually the only suggestion for the broadening of rights came from the left umbrella organisation of trade unions (as the suggestion to give parents the right to vote in the name of their children violates the basic democratic value that each person’s vote has the same weight). Besides maintaining legislation protecting workers, they would like to introduce the right to opposition and include data protection into the constitution. They also suggest that any kind of private militia should be banned, and that no titles of nobility or similar prerogatives may be given or used.

Religious freedom (both positive and negative) is guaranteed also in the present constitution. The article on religious freedom (no. 60) of the present constitution goes as follows:
(1) In the Republic of Hungary everyone has the right to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
(2) This right includes the free choice or acceptance of religion or any other conviction according to one's conscience, and the liberty to express, or refuse to express, to exercise or teach one's religion and conviction through the performance of religious acts and rites, either individually or together with others, either publicly or in a closed circle.
(3) In the Republic of Hungary the Church functions in separation from the State.

The present Hungarian constitution in English:
For data about founding and funding, and religious attendance, check here and here.