Viktor Orbán gave a speech at a round table discussion of the Association of Christian Intelligentsia (Keresztény Értlemiségiek Szövetsége/KÉSZ = Ready). The name of the organization didn’t immediately ring a bell until I read that its president is Zoltán Osztie, a Catholic priest known for his reactionary worldview. Moreover, Osztie is a politically committed man in the service of the current government. He and his organization work hand in hand with László Csizmadia’s CÖF (Civil Összefogás Fórum), which is behind the peace marches and which lately announced plans for a peace march to Brussels. CÖF received billions of forints from the central government, and thus Csizmadia and his friends had no problem footing the rather expensive campaign against Gordon Bajnai. Zsolt Bayer, András Bencsik, Gábor Széles, Ádám Pozsonyi, and László Csizmadia are prominent members of a “defense front” in the service of Viktor Orbán and his policies. Zoltán Osztie belongs to that inner circle of supporters.
I did some research on KÉSZ, which originally I mistakenly thought was just one of the many Christian civil groups. I always get suspicious when a group of people get together in the name of Christianity because in Hungary the adjective “keresztény” normally carries an emphasis on being “non-Jewish.” Otherwise, I see no reason for writers, journalists, and actors to distinguish themselves as Christians. KÉSZ is certainly not a simple gathering place for practicing Christians. Under the leadership of Zoltán Osztie it has become a politically committed organization.
The group was formed by another Catholic priest, Béla Csanád, in 1989 with the mission to spread the word. After years of anti-religious propaganda Csanád and his friends felt that there was a need for a kind of re-conversion of the intellectual elite who could then spread the gospel further. Although Csanád was a Catholic poet, the organization theoretically was open to all practicing Christians; according to the by-laws this is still the case. Osztie, however, often talks about the one and only church, the mysterious body of Christ, about a community in the middle of which lives the Virgin Mary. Well, that is a rather specific worldview in which Protestants wouldn’t be welcome.
Osztie took over the presidency of KÉSZ after Csanád’s death in 1996. His election was questioned by some of the members and eventually the court found it illegal. Seventeen years later he shows no inclination to leave the position, and most likely his grip on KÉSZ is such that no one could unseat him. There is an excellent article on Osztie that appeared in Magyar Narancs a couple of months ago.
A few interesting tidbits about the man. While he was studying for the priesthood in the 1970s he didn’t seem to be at all attracted to the small group of students who stood up to professors servile to the regime. He especially liked those professors whom most of the students disliked because of their rigidity. And he developed a hatred of liberalism, which he calls the result of “the devil’s destructive fury.” In his eyes, everything that has happened since the Renaissance is an attack on the church. Why was the Catholic Church the target? Because “the church is the guardian of natural communities, the family, the nation, the natural sexual and societal roles.” Society must therefore return to Christianity “because without God life has no meaning and no morality.” As for the appropriate sexual roles, in summer camps for children organized by KÉSZ boys learn to harvest and girls learn home canning. Traditional all right.
As for the role of the church, “Hungary is a Christian country. It is that simple. No other ideology, no other religion, no other messages have any place in this homeland. It is time to say that at last.” Of modern governments, he considers the Horthy regime’s attitude toward the church the most satisfactory. He finds the anti-Semitic Pál Teleki, the extreme right-wing Bálint Hóman, and Ottokár Prohászka, the spiritual father of Hungarism,”wonderful people who with the help of God resurrected the dead, mutilated country.”
As for his ideas on the media, Osztie thinks that its duties include the delivery of the aspirations and the accomplishments of the government. It’s no wonder that Osztie welcomed the much criticized media law.
When we analyze Viktor Orbán’s speech at the round table discussion of KÉSZ in Győr we must keep his audience in mind. The speech is partially transcribed on Viktor Orbán’s website and available on YouTube in its entirety. Here he describes himself as a Christian politician who must answer to God not just every four years but every day. We also learn the reason for the European Union’s intense dislike of Hungary. “While the European Union piles fiasco on top of fiasco it doesn’t want to recognize the success story of Hungary… We have been blacklisted. They want to force the role of black sheep on us.” And why is this so? “Because of our traditional and natural view of the family. In the center of the controversy is the family. Our Fundamental Law defends the family and marriage.” He added that “for four thousand years the rule was that every marriage consists of a man and a woman. … We don’t have to explain anything; we must ask them why it was necessary to give up a four-thousand-year tradition.” According to Orbán, there is a strong secular and anti-family lobby in Europe that has been very successful. Hungary bucks this trend and receives Europe’s hatred as a result.
And finally, he assured his audience that the government counts on the Christian intelligentsia because without them there is no electoral victory.
At the end, let me mention a Galamus article on this speech by the philosopher Ferenc L. Lendvai. He found a few pieces of nonsense [zöldség in Hungarian] in it. First, Viktor Orbán’s reference to the 4,000-year tradition of marriage between men and women. Orbán specifically mentioned 2,000 years of the New Testament and 2,000 years of the New Testament. Nice, but wrong! Napoleon talked about 4,000 years of civilization during his campaign against Egypt. And he was right; the pyramids are more than 4,000 years old. But Orbán has a problem with Old Testament chronology. Abraham wasn’t even born 2,000 years before Christ. And where was Moses with his tablets? And where were the priests who wrote down the laws of God? Moreover, even if they had lived four thousand years ago, the good Hungarian Christians wouldn’t be too enamored with the concepts of marriage and family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “If they don’t believe it, I suggest they should read the Bible if they are such good Christians.”
As for Orbán’s reference to good Christian politicians who have to give account to God every day, Lendvai quotes Matthew 7:22-23.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Gábor Bethlen, prince of Transylvania (1580-1629), was a good Calvinist. In his lifetime he read the Old and New Testaments forty times. Viktor Orbán, who is so proud of belonging to the Hungarian Reformed Church, should follow the example of Bethlen whom he admires. Start reading. And not just the Bible.
The great scholar, Geza Vermes just died. He was so hard on the phony conservatives like Benedict XVI or Orban.
These people give Christianity a bad name.
All other decent people must work on overthrowing our great dear leaders.
How odd — the priest’s surname is a homonym for the French for “communion wafer”. Not to suggest that his origins are, oh, Jewish, but… what was his name “before”?
” Christian Intelligentsia ” That’s an oxymoron, for sure …
Next King Viktor will turn out to be a creationist …
It getsweirder and wierder every day in Hungary.
Oh, how I detest those people!
Teachers are obliged to join Fascist-style corporations.
Fidesz government is willing to talk to its corporations only.
The corporations, unlike voluntary trade unions, will be led by Fideszniks. If a teacher breaches the “ethical codex” of the teacher “kar” (corporation) , s/he can be penalized.
This will lead to the political purge of the teacher community.
Fidesz might give additional tobacco licenses to those retailers that
1. submitted a tender earlier, but were not among the selected [Fideszniks] AND
2. 80% of their revenue came from tobacco sale AND
3. started their shop before January 1, 1993 and have not changed their location
and owners since then.
4. apply within a week again
Click to access Jelentkezesi_felhivas_regi_trafikosok_2013.05.13.V3.pdf
The Zola declaration: Accuse! will come handy.
The Orban play is a stigma on world history.
End it now.
There is a Woody Allen comedy, actually a fake documentary, about a guy named Zelig, in the 1920s. Zelig in order to fit in always took on the personality, even the physical characteristics, of the stronger personalities around him.
Orban is like Zelig. Now that the elections are coming he is saying everywhere whatever the audience wants to hear. The dumbass country boy from Felcsut is especially drawn to events where the word “intelligence” is in the program name.
Frankly I think even Orban is surprised how stupid his compatriots are. With Simicska they were planning a 4 year gig to get rich, but it turns out it could be even 8 years. The way the lie is so mindless that I have the impression they don’t care. They are not even sure they want to take on this shit for another 4 years. I mean this country won’t last financially that long. They are like the Mel Brooks’ producers, trying to stage the worst broadway show ever (“Springtime for Hitler”) in Hungary, skimming as much old ladies they can and then disappear , but the audience just can’t get enough of it.
Gosh. This can be my first PhD dissertation. “Hungarian politics mimicking Hollywood comedy”.
I just don’t know why the good Christian folks didn’t bother the ping Orban about abortion. That wasn’t on their approved list?
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