2011. július 12. 19:36

Parliament passes law on churches

Parliament passed a cardinal law on churches at its last session before summer recess late on Monday.

The law defines 14 churches and religious communities; other denominations will further need two-thirds parliamentary approval to become registered as a church or religious community.

The law was passed with 254 votes for and 43 against.

To establish a church a congregation or community must declare its faith and religious activities, and present proof of at least 20 years of operation and regulations on its structure and operation.

An amendment submitted by parliament's constitutional affairs committee to the bill just before the final vote removed the criteria on the need of at least a thousand people for establishing a church.

The law comes into force on January 1, 2012.

The opposition Socialists called Monday "a day of mourning in church history", saying that the vote was unworthy of the churches or the freedoms of religion and conscience.

The 20-year limitation means that the churches which functioned during the period of dictatorship can continue operation but the churches that were founded in the free Hungary cannot retain their status, Socialist MP Istvan Nyako said.