Monday, April 09, 2012

Hungary is Christian

 Patriarchal cross used by the Hungarians since the Middle Ages.

Hungary is a Christian country. Yes, you heard that right. Contrary to what some people and the mainstream media would like you to think. I just read the excerpts from an interview conducted by the Washington Post with Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán Viktor last week. The interviewer from the Washington Post was pretty incorrect in his assumption when questioning Mr. Orbán that Hungary is a secular country. For most, It would imply that Hungary is not a Christian country and never was. The interviewer told Mr. Orbán that "Hungary is a secular country, but the constitution now says that this is a Christian country and that life begins at conception." This statement by the interviewer give readers the notion that Hungary was always a secular country and never Christian. It is very misleading. Let's quickly look at the history of Christianity in Hungary.

A majority of educated people know that Hungary, as a European nation, has always been Christian. Hungary was founded over 1,100 years ago. Saint Stephen I, was the first king of Hungary. Under Stephen, Hungary was recognized as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom. King Stephen had introduced Christianity to Hungary. Before King Stephen, the old Magyar paganism dominated the Hungarian lands. Pope Sylvester II had given King Stephen the Holy Crown of Hungary as well, which is an important Christian symbol. Another important symbol in Hungarian history is that of the Patriarchal cross (double cross). This cross appears in Hungarian history around the reign of King Bela III (1190s). The Patriarchal cross is prominent in the various royal Hungarian coat of arms throughout the Middle Ages. The Patriarchal cross first appears in the royal coat of arms during the reign of Louis I of Hungary (1342-1382).

First variation of the coat of arms with Christian Patriarchal cross.

When the Ottoman Turks invaded Europe and then Hungary herself, Hungary became the defender of Christian Europe. Pope Pius III once said that "Hungary is that shield of Christianity and the defender of western civilization". Hungary was the last major Christian kingdom before the heart of Europe that could stop the advancing Ottoman Turks. Throughout the centuries, Christianity played an important role in Hungarian society. Originally, the overwhelming majority of Christians in Hungary were Catholics. After the Reformation, the number of Protestants increased, especially in the eastern part of the Hungarian Kingdom.

Current version of coat of arms used by Hungary since 1990. Only the socialist party members in parliament opposed the official use of it when it was put to vote.

For over 1,000 years, Christianity has played a prominent role in Hungarian society. It was only in the period from 1949 to 1989 that secularization emerges in Hungary. In this 40 year period, the communists controlled Hungary. The communists, who were officially atheists, looked down on Christianity as saw it as a threat. During the early years of communism in Hungary, public practice was essentially tolerated but by being a practicing Christian, one could lose their status in Hungarian society. The communists tried to replace the religion of Christianity with their "religion" of communism. The policies of the communists during their 40 year reign, created a fear amongst Hungarians when it came to practicing their Christian faith. As a result, Hungarian society became more secular. The damage by the communists had been done. Within 40 years, church attendance was at an all time low.

With the fall of communism in 1989, Hungarians began to rediscover their Christian heritage. Hungarians once again were able to practice their Christian faith openly without discrimination by the state. No matter what people or especially the mainstream media might say, Hungarians have always remained Christian and proudly identify themselves as such. Recently, according to a 2001 census, 54.5% of Hungarians identified themselves as Roman Catholics. The number of Protestants identified in Hungary was 19.5% (Calvinists, Lutherans, Baptists). Those that said they had no religion or refused to answer was 24.5% of the population. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed had identified themselves as Christians. So much for Hungary being a secular country. The current coat of arms proudly displays the Patriarchal cross as it had in the past. The comments made by the Washington Post interviewer show an incredible ignorance that will mislead people who are not familiar with Hungary and her history.