The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe says it will haul up Hungary before its European peers to pressure it to restore more than 200 churches to its official registry.
Hungary stripped official recognition from the churches in 2011, after it passed a law that created two tiers of churches, the lower of which enjoys fewer rights. The law put the power to decide into the hands of parliament. Among those demoted were Methodist, Pentecostal and Adventist churches, as well as reform Jewish congregations.
The Forum called the move a “blatant violation of a fundamental principle of religious freedom and human rights. No legislative body should have the power to rule over religious freedom.” Hungary’s Constitutional Court ruled in early 2013 that 67 churches had been bumped out of the top-tier registry unconstitutionally. In April 2014, the European Court of Human Rights decreed that Hungary, a member of the European Union, had interfered with the believers’ fundamental rights. Hungary appealed to the European Court’s Grand Chamber, where the lower court’s ruling was upheld.
Now the Forum says it will introduce an “intervention” at the Sept. 30 meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, seeking member pressure on Hungary to restore official recognition to the demoted churches, and to take the power to classify religions out of the hand of the parliament.