The Christian Advent Community's declaration - Budapest, 05 August 2011




In the name of the Christian Advent Community, we hereby make the following declaration concerning the new Act on Religious Communities that was passed on July 12th, 2012.

Our alliance of congregations of Adventist confession was given legal status as a church in 1990. Before that time, we were operating illegally as we refused to comply with the requirements of the party state that were deeply offending our principles and were also morally unacceptable. Consistently upholding the principle of the separation of church and state, we have never accepted state funding to support our ministry, including the work of the church-supported Sola Scriptura College of Theology. This declaration is therefore made as a matter of principle.

During the 20 years following the transition from party state to democracy, freedom of religion and conscience was inviolate in Hungary. The new Act, however, is not only a considerable setback from the previous state – allegedly made to maintain order” -, but simply makes it impossible to freely exercise these basic rights, except for the 14 churches that were recognised and granted considerable benefits. The Act states that only those organisations are entitled to bear the name “church” which had been registered according to the new regulations (Article 7, Section 4). Religious communities which do not use the opportunity to re-register or are refused registration, can operate as religious associations.

However, the term “church” (ekklesia in the New Testament) is basically of a confessional character. The church is therefore to operate as an entity wholly independent and separate from the state, whose organisational framework can only be determined by the community of believers. An association is not a religious category, it denotes a social organisation controlled by the state. By confining the free excercise of religion to a compulsory, state-determined organisational framework, the Act severely offends the right to freedom of religion and conscience. This basic right, namely, does not only imply the right to freely confess one's indidvidual conviction (whether it be religious or not), but also the right to exercise this publicly, in communion with others.

The Act, in principle, provides an oportunity to obtain or regain right to operate as a church, but it sets conditions that are not acceptable for everybody, either on conscientous grounds or because of concerns regarding data protection. These criteria are suitable to create division among religious communities. But even the fulfillment of normative conditions is insufficient for recognition as a church: this, namely, has to be confirmed by the decision of a political body, the National Assembly, by a two-thirds majority. Furthermore: “Even in case of the fulfillment of conditions, a community cannot be registered as a church if the competent state authority considers its operation to constitute a risk to state security” (Article 16, section 4).  This stipulation of the Act makes it possible to monitor the members of individual religious communities from a confessional or other point of view, using police power.

We kindly ask the National Assembly as the body obliged to protect the basic human rights of every citizen, to reconsider and modify this Act. 

We remind, furthermore, that Christianity obliges us to unconditionally respect freedom of religion and conscience, without discrimination and with regard to every human being. It is incompatible with Christianity to affirm this right for ourselves or our own community, while at the same time tacitly acknowledging the refusal of the same right from others.


August 5th, 2011

The governing body of the

Christian Advent Community

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