The Buddhist Channel offers an interesting post this week concerning the recent regime change in Hungary and its effects on the nation’s Buddhist population. Buddhist groups in the country will no longer be recognized as religious groups.
In the most recent elections, Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union claimed a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Socially conservative, one of Fidesz’s first acts was to enact the new “Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Community,” which has drawn criticism because it privileges certain religious communities over others.
The new legislation, which is popularly referred to as “the Church Law,” only recognizes churches with long traditions in Hungarian history: Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Orthodox, other Protestant denominations, and some Jewish congregations (excluding reform). No Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist organization is accepted, and the law stipulates that to be recognized, an organization must have a membership of over one-thousand and “have been in existence for more than twenty years.”
Officially recognized religious groups have access to government subsidies and tax advantages, which all the country’s Buddhist and other unrecognized groups lost in January. Only a two-thirds vote by parliament can decide if an organization meets these criteria.
Among the Buddhist organizations in Hungary, the Jai Bhim Network has taken the lead on opposing the law and seeking recognition for the country’s Buddhist groups.
For more on the story, visit the Buddhist Channel, and watch the video below.
Hungary Dispatches; October 2011 from Subhutisecretary on Vimeo.