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Dispute over Christianity

September 5th, 2022

A left-wing and two conservative pundits offer diametrically opposing views on the role of Christian values in politics.

In Magyar Nemzet, Sándor Faggyas calls on Hungarian Christians to declare their religious affiliation in the 2022 census. The conservative columnist recalls that the Hungarian Atheist Society encouraged Hungarians to tick the ‘atheist’ box in the census questionnaire – in the hope that the percentage of the religiously affiliated population will fall below 50 per cent in 2022 from the previous 54.2 per cent. According to the Hungarian Atheist Society, this could strengthen the wall of separation between state and church in Hungary. Faggyas acknowledges that since 2002, the number of Hungarians declaring a religious affiliation has diminished, but he thinks many of those who did not respond to the census question on religion are non-practicing ‘cultural Christians’. Faggyas hopes that active Christians can convince them that it is their moral duty to declare their faith.

In Népszava, a former MSZP leader accuses the government of considering non-religious Hungarians as second-class citizens. Klára Lendvai claims that the government maintains that those without religious beliefs cannot have strong moral commitments either. Lendvai goes on to suggest that Fidesz politicians behave as if their power comes from God – rather than from the people. She also thinks that Fidesz does not care much about religious ideas, but wants to use Christian rhetoric for political purposes: to unite their supporters and suggest their moral superiority by accusing non-religious voters and liberals of immorality.

In Magyar Demokrata, Fidesz MP and Vice-Speaker of the House János Latorcai contends that Christian identity politics is crucial to overcome political polarization in contemporary societies. Latorcai believes that the traditional right-left ideological division has been replaced by the divide between globalist liberals and Christian democrats. While globalists endorse individual rights and corporate capitalism, Christian democrats embrace traditional left-wing welfare policies and national sovereignty, Latorcai writes. He adds that progressive ‘woke’ identity politics is an important element of the globalist paradigm and is used to weaken national solidarity. In order to defend traditional values, including the values of the Enlightenment and free speech, societies need to endorse Christian values, he thinks. In pluralistic societies, only Christian norms can provide an alternative to the globalist liberal ideology and firm foundations for social consensus in nation states, Latorcai concludes.

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