Secular Hungary

Friday, 8 October 2010

Not more churches

Mr László Szászfalvi, state secretary of the Ministry for Public Adminsitration and Justice has outlined last weeks some plans to tighten the rules for establishing religious communities. Currently we have about 185 of them, and among others they have the right to compete with each other for 1% of the personal income tax.
It is rather easy to establish a church in Hungary at present: you need 100 members and you have to submit your statutes and main teachings - there is no testing if the community is a religious one, though it has happened that some requests for registration have been denied.
Mr Szászfalvi said in an interview that they plan to increase the number of members needed to 10.000. Meeting this criterion will pose some problems also for well established communities (such as ca. 150 followers of the byzantine rites present in Hungary since 1800 years or so), so they want to give an exemption for churches present in Hungary for a longer time, i.e. so-called "historical churches". Some big foreign communities such as the mormons may also have to fight for their status.
Of course we do have 'business churches' (bizniszegyházak), i.e. pseudo-religious communities eatablished solely for financial reasons. But surely the most efficient way to stop them would be to just do away with their financial privileges and treating them as any other non profit assosiacion? - Anyway, the state secretary's plans at least prove that churches do indeed enjoy privileges.
But then, as one of the critics mentioned, Christianity also started with only a dozen disciples.