Hungarian churches left in no-man’s land

10 02 2012


Gabor Ivanyi lives every day with the consequences of government persecution. In 1977, when the Hungarian communist authorities closed down his Methodist church in Budapest, he vowed not to shave until it re-opened.

“I thought it would all be solved in a matter of days or weeks,” he says.

But the police padlocked the church, so Mr Ivanyi held services on the street until five years later when the authorities softened their approach. Though not before they had demolished his church.

The preacher thought his troubles were over when, in 1990, the outgoing regime introduced a law regulating religious organisations. But, 22 years on, the pastor is instead facing a new fight – and his beard is of Biblical proportions.

From his cramped headquarters in Jozsefvaros – a working-class district of the capital – Mr Ivanyi’s Wesleyan church runs a nationwide network of schools, homes for the aged and hostels for the homeless serving some 4,000 of Hungary’s poorest and most needy.

In December, Hungary’s parliament, in which the Fidesz party of prime minister Viktor Orban holds a two-thirds majority, passed a new law on churches – part of a burst of legislation that caused concern in the European Union and US regarding Mr Orban’s respect for democracy.

As a result, more than 300 formerly registered denominations – including Mr Ivanyi’s Methodists – are now in a legal no-man’s land, no longer recognised by the state.


To read the complete article on Financial Times website, please click here.  

About these ads



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 892 other followers

Powered by
%d bloggers like this: