Hungary: Religious bodies seek EU intervention to restore religious equality
In a remarkable joint interfaith gesture, Hindus-Buddhists-Jews-Atheists want immediate intervention of European Union (EU) in Hungary to establish religious equality and freedom.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hinduism and many other religions and denominations were not officially recognized in Hungary. Should not all religions be equal before the law in a democracy? Is not Hungary part of the EU which boasts of being the human rights leader in the world? Zed asked.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion in the world with a rich philosophical thought and about one billion adherents. Are not these enough qualifications for a religion to be recognized?
Rajan Zed expressed dismay at Hungary’s recent law on religion, saying that it was a setback to religious equality. The official recognition process was suffocating, cumbersome, unnecessarily burdened the Hungary’s minority religions/denominations, smelled of favoritism, discriminatory against certain faith groups and was without any right to appeal. It was a step in the wrong and backwards direction, Zed added.
Zed further said 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.
Rajan Zed urged His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and other world religious leaders to speak against this recent 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.
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. Zed 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.
Meanwhile, Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada, in a statement today, stressed that Hinduism was one of the major religions of the world and the Hungarian Parliament was out of touch with the reality in not granting it recognition in upholding "The Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Status of Churches, Religions and Religious Communities" Law. Rabbi Beyer stated that the Law created inferior religious status to faiths which had fewer followers in Hungary, violating the right to be free from religious discrimination. Beyer noted that the Law, which also stripped liberal Jewish congregations of their religious status, was flawed and archaic.
Jon Eric Johnson, a well known atheist scholar belonging to Reno Freethinkers, in a statement today, said: “We are dismayed and disappointed at the Hungarian government for engaging in the regulation and exclusionary approach in religion. A free and democratic society must allow people to worship, or not worship, as they so choose without restriction, harassment or favoritism.”
Distinguished Buddhist priest in Western USA, Jikai' Phil Bryan, in a statement in Reno today, urged Hungary to end discriminatory practices aimed at members of any and all authentic religious traditions and treat all religions as equal before the law and government. Bryan stressed the urgent need of ensuring religious equality and freedom in Hungary.
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.
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