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Churches criticised amidst migration wave

August 8th, 2015

A liberal weekly accuses the Christian churches of ignoring migrants who need help. A left-wing columnist, on the other hand, thinks that churches do help to temper anti-immigrant sentiments. A conservative columnist believes that the Left was wrong to suggest that the government wants to stir up xenophobia.

Magyar Narancs in a first page editorial accuses Hungary’s Christian churches of ignoring the plight of migrants. The left-liberal weekly admits that Bishop László Kiss-Rigó has called for providing humanitarian help for refugees, but at the same time notes that half of all undocumented migrants may not be eligible for asylum. Magyar Narancs interprets his statements as an indication that the Hungarian Christian Churches are “too cowardly” to oppose the government, despite the Christian Democratic principles it claims to follow, because “churches are (financially) dependent” on that government.

The Left is wrong to suggest that the government’s policies and rhetoric will increase anti-migrant sentiments,  Ottó Gajdics comments in Napi Gazdaság, on the TÁRKI report on xenophobia (see BudaPost August 6). The pro-government columnist interprets TÁRKI’s data as an indication that most Hungarians are becoming less xenophobic. They want to help refugees, but do not want mass immigration and oppose the inflow of economic migrants not eligible for asylum, Gajdics maintains. In conclusion, he notes that this widely shared view may well ground a more consensual approach to migration.

In Népszabadság, Gábor Czene contends that Christian Churces may after all temper anti-immigrant feelings. Czene recalls that according to TÁRKI’s survey, active church-goers are among the least xenophobic groups in Hungary. The left-wing columnist nonetheless criticizes Christian churches for not openly denouncing what he sees as the government’s inhumane anti-immigrant campaign. But he also admits that churches may try to influence the government’s polices from behind the scenes, and by educating their own flocks.

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