Hungarian parliament expanded the number of recognised churches from an initial 14 to 32 on Monday.
The related amendment to the law on the legal status of churches, denominations and religious communities was approved by the deputies of the ruling majority, in the absence of opposition MPs.
The 18 religious communities added to the original list of denominations are as follows: the United Methodist Church in Hungary, the Hungarian Pentecostal Church, the St. Margaret’s Anglican Episcopal Church, the Transylvanian Congregation, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Hungary, the Apostolic Christian Church Nazarene, the Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Free Church of the Salvation Army of Hungary, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Hungarian Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses, two Muslim denominations and five Buddhist religious communities.
Simultaneously, Parliament rejected the application for church status of 66 religious communities.
MP Ildiko Lendvai of the opposition Socialists called upon President Pal Schmitt not to sign the amended church law, which she said deprived several religious communities from their church status without giving any explanation.
In the case of the Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship the decision was obviously motivated by political vengeance, she said, noting that Gabor Ivanyi, the community’s leader and a one-time liberal MP, had addressed a mass demonstration protesting against Hungary’s new constitution in early January.
Hungary’s church law, requiring a two-thirds majority, was approved late last year and recognised 14 churches. It enabled other religious denominations to apply for church status. Applications had to be submitted to the Ministry of Justice, which then passed them on to parliament for a decision.