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Gov’t to stuff churches with cash in run-up to election

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with Franciscan monks at the Mátraverebély Szentkút National Shrine in March 2016 | Photo: Facebook/Orbán Viktor

The Hungarian government has announced it will give some HUF 4.5 billion (USD 17.3 million) in EU funds to a number of church religious charity groups. The decision was made public by Fidesz-KDNP MP and undersecretary Churches, Minorities and Civil Affairs Miklós Soltész.

Soltész is chairman of the government’s Charity Council, comprising predominantly religious charity groups.

According to Soltész, the Catholic Caritas, Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, Hungarian Ecumenical Aid, and the Hungarian Red Cross will each receive HUF 650 million (USD 2.5 million) , while Hungarian Baptist Aid will receive HUF 640 million. The Johannite Aid Service, St Luke Greek Catholic Aid Group, and the United Hungarian Israelite Faith Community (EMIH, led by Rabbi Köves Slomó) will each receive HUF 200 million (USD 770,000).

This EU grant is provided through the Ministry of Human Resources, led by Minister Zoltán Balog.

News of this latest transfer to church groups comes on the heels of several such transfers over the past year. In early October, the government re-directed budgetary funds from national defense to “church community-related programs and investments.” Hungary’s state-recognized churches (and their activities) are heavily subsidized by the state, and enormous fiscal transfers to churches appear to be taking place in the run-up to the 2018 national election.

Benjamin Novak :