Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Surprise Amendment to the Church Law in Hungary
Last night the Hungarian parliament passed the new law regarding churches.
At the last possible moment - at almost midnight - in a move which is seen by most observers as very tricky and shady, the proposed law, which I wrote about previously in this post, which included Calvary Chapel and many other churches, was modified right before it went to vote before the parliamentary assembly.
Whereas the original proposal, which was made public a few weeks ago, listed 3 categories for churches (a., b. and c.), these categories were now removed, and only the following groups were permitted to retain their church status: Roman Catholics, Hungarian Reformed Church, Lutheran Church, 3 Jewish denominations, 4 Orthodox denominations, Unitarian Church, Baptist Church and the Faith Church.
This means that not only Calvary Chapel, but the Methodist Church, Seventh Day Adventists, Evangelical Pentecostals, Islam, Buddhism and many other churches and religions will have to apply to receive recognition as a church, and each will have to be voted upon by the parliament, which must approve it with a 2/3 majority.
In my opinion - and I am not alone in this - this is a major step backwards in regard to religious freedom in Hungary, especially considering the part about the parliamentary representatives needing to approve a church with a 2/3 majority in order for them to be given the title of church.
As I understand it, this will not affect the status of Calvary Chapel in Hungary immediately, and we still don't know the details of exactly how this will affect us.
Most likely, we will apply for continued recognition as a church, and I believe that we will receive it. What is sure is that it will be a difficult road, navigating the political and legal issues involved.
Please join us in praying for Hungary and for the ministry of Calvary Chapel here.