for The Washington Post on Dec. 14, 2011
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hare Krishna members on Tuesday protested outside Hungary’s Parliament against a new law that could strip them of their status as a recognized church.
Hungary’s church law taking effect Jan. 1 grants official status to 14 Christian churches and Jewish congregations but forces all others to submit a new registration request and gain approval from a two-thirds majority of lawmakers.
“We are representing a billion Hindus worldwide who are wondering why they have to prove themselves again to the Hungarian government,” said monk Sivarama Svami, from the Krishna Valley farm in central Hungary. The protest included two cows from the farm.
Previously, churches needed only to register with a local court, which did not have the option of rejecting applications.
The church law has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates, policy experts and opposition groups, who see it as another attempt by the government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to ensure political control over many institutions earlier considered at least nominally independent.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/dozens-of-small-churches-in-hungary-fear-loss-of-status-due-to-new-politicized-law-on-religion/2011/12/13/gIQAnjvsrO_story.html