for ISKCON News on Dec. 23, 2011
There was a window of hope for Hungarian Krishna-believers and many other religious organizations when on the 19th of December, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Hungary struck down the restrictive religious law. However, it all evaporated less than two days later.
The Hungarian Society for Krishna-Consciousness (HSKCON) was disappointed to find that the new version of the church law, filed with the Parliament on the 21st of December, contains no significant improvements compared to the previous version cancelled by the Constitutional Court, and even includes some new paragraphs that will only increase ambiguity.
HSKCON finds it especially humiliating that, under the pretext of weeding out "business churches,” the lawmakers keep in uncertainty respectable communities who enjoy wide support from society and who have impeccable histories of religious life and public service. They are now forced to prove their 100 years of international existence, even though several such world religions have existed hundreds or even thousands of years before Christianity.
Sivarama Swami, the spiritual leader of HSKCON says: "We are very disappointed with the government constantly changing goal posts. They don`t seem to mind humiliating respectable ancient traditions. What did we, the representatives of Hinduism, do to deserve them almost treating us like terrorists?"
He continues: "This law is about repression, not freedom. Seventy years ago, my parents were forced to wear visible yellow stars sewn on their clothes. Now I wonder when I will have to wear a yellow Om."
Nonetheless, HSKCON sees it a positive sign that the draft law submitted to the Parliament resolves the question of the arable land owned by these communities. They still maintain the hope that, by motions of modification, the MPs will give automatic recognition to the representatives of world religions, as well as to other religious communities that perform useful service to the society.
The law is scheduled to be voted on on the 30th of December.
In spite of the uncertainty of their fate, the Hare Krishna’s Food for Life charity will hold its traditional grand food distribution program from the 24th through to the 26th of December in the city center of Budapest. This year the event will boast the personal support of a great number of celebrities: famous artists, musicians, and sport champions undertook to express their support by personally distributing food to the needy. During the three days of Christmas, more than 6,000 plates of hot lunch and several tons of groceries will be distributed at 15 locations in 12 cities all over Hungary.