The International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) is a UK-based NGO working for freedom of religion & belief at a global level. IARF has General Consultative Status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations. On Monday, August 22, President of IARF, Rev. Mitsuo Miyake, sent letters to Hungarian Ambassadors in Washington, Tokyo, London, expressing his concern for the state of religious freedom in Hungary.
In his letter, the IARF President said:
During Hungary’s democratic transition twenty years ago, the separation of religious and political institutions was achieved. But on 12 July this year, Hungary’s Parliament passed a law on churches that deprived more than 100 religious denominations of their church status (notably, all Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu congregations, as well as Methodist, Pentecostal, Adventist and reform Jewish churches; the Salvation Army and Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Many religious communities have become pariahs overnight, with all their social, healthcare and educational services stripped of their lawful subsidies. This withdrawal of subsidy will impact certain groups to whom they have been providing services: the homeless, the elderly, the poor, Roma, inmates, children and young people in middle and higher education.
In breach of democratic standards separating church from state, the law declared that in future a vote by Parliamentary parties will authorize religious groups’ existence.
All groups, existing and new, will have to request recognition from a government minister, who will “evaluate” their religious creeds.
This is a violation of the principle of freedom and equality of religions, and the passage of such a law marks Hungary as the first EU member state to break with this principle.
During the Soviet domination of the1970s, worship sites were shut or demolished without recourse. But today Europe is united in the principles of freedom of belief, equality before the law, and separation of church from state (Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights).
The IARF therefore joins the international calls urging Hungary’s political leadership to reconsider this law, in order to bring the religious life of the nation into conformity with European norms.
source: International Association for Religious Freedom