Christians Associated for Democracy has translated the most recent (2018) draft of Hungary’s law on the legal status of churches into English. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found that the current church law violates the right of religious freedom. The new draft of the law is intended to address the shortcomings of the existing law. However, the bill still appears to preserve that law’s most objectionable features.
The English text of the law can be downloaded here.
Christians Associated for Democracy published the first issue of its English-Hungarian language journal, Principium, this January. To learn more about the issue, or to order a copy, check out the Principium webpage.
Christians Associated for Democracy has translated the newest draft of Hungary’s law on the “legal status of churches” into English. The European Court of Human Rights had found an earlier version of the law to violate the right of religious freedom. The amended law attempts to redress those violations by introducing a three-tiered classification system for religious communities: “religious associations,” “registered churches,” and “certified churches.” Additionally, the law allows the state to enter into “cooperative agreements” with “certified churches” on a discretionary basis to subsidy their “public interest activities.”
The new draft of the law, made public in early September 2015, will need to be scrutinized carefully by legal scholars and human rights groups. According to Dr. David Baer, professor at Texas Lutheran University and a member of the executive board of Christians Associated for Democracy, the draft “marks a significant improvement over earlier versions of the church law in that it provides explicit rights and protections for religious communities classified in the lower tiers. These improvements notwithstanding, however, the proposed amendments fail to address a number of crucial violations of the right religious freedom identified by the European Court of Human Rights, and is likely to be the occasion of further legal action before the Court.”
The proposed changes to Hungary’s church law will be a topic for discussion at this year’s OSCE Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw, at a side event hosted by FOREF (Forum for Religious Freedom Europe) on September 30, from 1:00-3:00 p.m..
The English text of the draft of the law, as well as excerpts from the rationale for the amendments provided by the Hungarian Ministry of Justice, can be downloaded via the links below.
Amended church law_Act CCVI_9.15_en
Excerpts of rationale for amendments to Hungary’s church law_9.13
The Hungarian text of the draft law, and the Hungarian text of the rationale can be downloaded via the links below.
Christians Associated for Democracy provided assistance in translating a book on the state of religious freedom in Hungary. Written by Dr. David Baer, the book was published in both English and Hungarian by the John Wesley Publishing House / Wesley János Kiadó, with the bilingual title Essays in Defense of Religious Freedom / A vallásszabadság védelmében. The author documents the impact on religious minorities of Hungary’s discriminatory “law on the status of churches.” Persons interested in the book can purchase it through Books and Java Booksellers or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The preface to the book can be downloaded in English and Hungarian.
Christians Associated for Democracy facilitated in translating into Hungarian the decision by the European Court of Human Rights on Hungary’s 2011 Church Act. Both the Hungarian translation and the English original are made available here.
Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház és társai kontra Magyarország
Case of Magyar Kereszteny Mennonita Egyhaz and others v. Hungary
Dr. David Baer, a member of the executive board for Christians Associated, submitted an expert opinion in support of a legal petition filed by Church of God United Pentecostal Church in Hungary. Church of God in Hungary is affiliated with United Pentecostal Church International based in the United States. The Hungarian affiliate was deprived of legal status in 2011 and is currently reapplying for recognition as a church. Their application was evaluated by an unnamed expert on religion appointed by the Hungarian government. The unnamed expert concluded Church of God did not meet the conditions needed for legal recognition as a church in Hungary. In his own expert opinion, Dr. Baer disputed this conclusion.