Religion, Rights and Secular Society

Religion, Rights and Secular Society

European Perspectives

Edited by Peter Cumper and Tom Lewis

The expectations of many that religion in modern Europe would be swept away by the powerful current of secularization have not been realised, and today few topics generate more controversy than the complex relationship between religious and secular values. The ‘religious/secular’ relationship is examined in this book, which brings together scholars from different parts of Europe and beyond to provide insights into the methods by which religion and equivalent beliefs have been, and continue to be, protected in the legal systems and constitutions of European nations. The contributors’ chapters reveal that the oft-tumultuous legacy of Europe’s relationship with religion still resonates across a continent where legal, political and social contours have been powerfully shaped by faith and religious difference.

Chapter 10: The pendulum of church–state relations in Hungary

Renata Uitz

Subjects: law - academic, european law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Freedom of religion or belief was not a particularly contentious issue in Hungary for the first two decades after the transition from Communism to democracy. Indeed, until the spring of 2011, it was a matter of less than moderate public concern. Unlike many countries in Western Europe, Hungary is not a primary target for immigration and asylum seekers, and it still does not have a very visible or sizeable Muslim community. In common with most other post-Communist EU member states, surveys found that Hungarians appeared not to regard religious discrimination as being a serious problem in Hungarian society. In the last population census of 2001, the majority of the population listed themselves as Roman Catholic (52 per cent), with the second largest segment being Calvinist Protestants (almost 16 per cent), the third largest the Lutheran Protestants (or Evangelicals, as they are known in Hungary, with 3 per cent), with less than 1 per cent identifying as Jewish. At the same census, 15 per cent of the respondents declared that they did not belong to a church, while 10 per cent refused to answer the question. Religious identification, admittedly, translates to less active religious participation in Hungary than in other Central European democracies.

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