New Hungarian Law Strips Registration from Churches

Monday, April 28, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (Worthy News)-- The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that a Hungarian law had violated the rights of churches and other religious groups by stripping them of their state registrations, according to Barnabas Aid.

The court ruled that under the European Convention on Human Rights -- which guarantees the right of assembly and association and freedom of thought, conscience and religion -- Hungary's Church Act had indeed violated the rights of many religious communities.

Hungary had introduced the Church Act two years ago as part of changes to its constitution. As a result, only 14 religious groups retained their state registrations while more than 300 other groups -- including the Episcopal and Methodist denominations as well as every branch of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism -- lost their tax exemptions and subsidies.

The Church Act was originally crafted to address the exploitation of state funds by groups registered as religions that were not necessarily "religious". But the court claimed that there were less drastic solutions to the abuse of state subsidies than de-registering entire applicant communities.

Many of Hungary's religious communities claimed they had been discriminated against because of their minority status. For any religious community to be recognized under the Church Act, it had have a minimum membership and a documented duration of operation, but both requirements were deemed excessive by the court.