On the 30th of December, the Hungarian Parliament passed the new religious law that is in lieu of the one cancelled by the Constitutional Court earlier in December.
Despite the concerns and warnings expressed by the Constitutional Court, international human rights agencies, political leaders such as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, dignitaries of the European Union, and despite the continuous protest by religious minorities, the Government did not change the discriminatory paragraphs, and gave automatic recognition to only 14 religious organizations, while forced the outstanding (over 300) groups to go through a difficult re-registration process (including representatives of world religions such as Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, as well as other world-recognized Christian groups: Anglicans, Methodists, Adventists, Mormons etc.)
Among many other conditions, the new law requires the applicant organizations to prove at least 100 years of international existence or 20 years of established activity in Hungary. Their authenticity and theology will be examined and evaluated by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Parliament`s Human Rights and Religions Committee, and finally voted on by the 2/3rd majority of the Parliament. This latter condition could especially be of a concern, since it could open the door to political considerations in religious matters.
Protesters listen to the words of Peter Soos Pentecostal pastor, who had been fasting for religious freedom for 28 days
Due to ISKCON`s strong protest, however, the new law allows those churches that have to transform into civil associations to keep their land as long as their main activity is religious. (According to the previous draft, ISKCON`s losing its church status would have resulted in losing their 270 hectars of land, the world-recognized Krishna-valley organic farm as well, that would have left 300 monks and families, as well as 52 sacred cows homeless.)
An important note is that, due to modifications of the draft law, now those churches that have already requested to be acknowledged as such (that includes ISKCON) will keep their church status until the 29th of February 2012. During this period the Parliament will deal with the applications in a speedier manner.
[ cow-protection ]
[ hungary ]
Antardhi Das speaks about the importance of cow protection at a demonstration organized by ISKCON on the 13th of December
So the next two months will still remain crucial in defining ISKCON Hungary`s future for decades.
ISKCON Hungary expresses its heartfelt gratitude to all the over 40.000 people who signed the petition that instigated the Parliament to solve the land-issue, as well as to all those who have been supporting their case in any other ways.