Hindus have expressed dismay at Hungary’s new law on religion, which they said was a setback to religious equality.
According to reports, under “Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Communities”, adopted by Hungary on July 12 and which comes into force on January 1, 2012; only 14 of 358 registered churches/religious-associations will be granted recognition and the rest will have to reapply, face more stringent conditions, meet about seven criteria for recognition, and secure two-third approval of parliament for registration.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was a step in the wrong and backwards direction. He asked for immediate intervention of European Union to restore religious equality and freedom in Hungary.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that new law would unnecessarily burden the Hungary’s minority religions/denominations with cumbersome registration system, smelled of favoritism and was clearly discriminatory against certain faith groups.
Rajan Zed pointed out that nations should not be in the business of regulating religion, which was very powerful and complex; and governments should not tell who was “church” and who was not.
Zed urged His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and other world religious leaders to speak against this new Hungarian law and back the minority religions/denominations of Hungary. Religions/denominations with a major presence in Hungary should also come to the rescue of religious minorities.
Rajan Zed stated that Hungary seemed to have created its own narrow “definition” of religion which might not be compatible with European and international religious equality and freedom standards. This exclusionary approach sent a worrying signal, a cause for concern and was not consistent with European pluralistic values.
Zed further said that it could jeopardize smaller and newer (in Hungary) religions/denominations and these groups might find themselves without any legal stature and thus without voice. He stressed the need for more openness, equality and religious freedom in Hungary; the country of Lake Balaton, romantic Danube River, Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok.
In a past survey, 44% Hungarians reportedly replied that they believed that there was a God. Roman Catholics were the largest group with about 52% Hungarians as followers. Majority of Hungary became Christian in the 11th century. Budapest synagogue is said to be the largest in Europe.
Pal Schmitt and Viktor Orban are President and Prime Minister respectively of Republic of Hungary.