Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The "Club" of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

So in Hungary the new law regulating churches and religious organizations just passed, leaving only 14 official churches in the country. This includes the boig four (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Baptist), all three of the Jewish organizations (though I'm sursprised that anyone bought that Chabad is the continuity of the old Status Quo Ante), the Unitarians (don't think UU), a charismatic Christian sect, and a bunch of Eastern Catholic/Orthodox churches that have been in Hungary for centuries.

Didn't make the cut, along with any of the Islam organizations, the Methodists, Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Krishna consciousness and the Buddhists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And now there is panic. Because while the Krishnah guys and the Methodists do have a chance to get official recognition through government agreements due to their public services, the LDS folks relied heavily on the third category saving their tax exemption that was introduced in the original bill.

You see, there were three categories: 1. Historic churches, which include the 14 recognized churches, 2. Churches entering an agreement with the government, based on their public services (The Methodists have a wide spread school and pre-school system for disadvantaged kids as well as several homeless shelters, the Krishna conscious folks feed the homeless), and 3. Churches that are memberes of world-wide churches with ties to foreign churches. The first two categories are included in the final law, but not the third. I guess thatw as to remove the Scientologists completely. And possibly Jehovah's Witnesses.

I'm fairly sure that the Mormons will appeal based on their "Mormon Helping Hands" being public service, but I doubt they will be able to get more than a hearthfelt laughter out of the government. Donating incubators that don't work with 220V and a handful of wheelchairs and cleaning some public buses will not put them in the same league with the Methodists, or even with the two Reformed Jewish congregations who maintain hospital services. Oh well.

Of course everyone on Facebook is talking about opression and all that. My former shul didn't get recognized either, and they immediately decided to go the suggested route: forming a civil organization, club or alliance. I wonder what the Mormons will do... possibly change their name to something that is not abreviated into a word that means "you are bored of me". (That said, the Hungarian CTR ring looks like a dairy worker's ring, as VAJ means butter...)

So back to the topic, one of the questions I've heard asked is whether the LDS church will get to use the word church in their name. I was also asked if I thinkthe LDS church could step up with their public service and get that government approval. My answer is no, I doubt it would be able to. However, I don't think much will change in the lives of the local  memebers. The Mormons are known to keep carrying on. It will definitely fuel their persecution complex, but hey, it will also make them feel better about themselves. 

Now visas for missionaries and dissemination of LDS literature might change. And definitely the handling of tithing slips and tithes themselves will need to change. I do believe that the LDS church will finally be accountable for the funds received in Hungary from members.However, I repeat, I doubt a lot will change.


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