Religion, the Churches, and Political Power in Hungary

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Marton CSANADY, Karoli Gaspar University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Hungary
Hungary is one of the traditionally multi-religious European countries. While more than 90% of the population in the Hungarian Kingdom had belonged to a Protestant church in the seventeenth century, the Counter-Reformation under Habsburg rule made Catholicism the religion of the overwhelming majority. Fully free practice of religion has become possible only after 1990.

The Reformation subverted the traditional conception of worldly political power and the differences among the churches in this respect have not disappeared. Attitudes to political power can be assessed by measuring trust in the institutions that represent it. (Offe 2000.)

Studies of religion generally classify countries by their majority religions. (Inglehart 1999.) The first question of the research conducted at Károli University of the Reformed Church in Budapest since 2014 asks whether there are significant differences among the major Christian denominations within a country in the attitudes of their members to state power. If that be the case, then the second question is directed at the source of such differences either in the original doctrines or rather in the local history and present social standing of the various churches.

Three large-sample surveys (of 1000 persons each) have been conducted using and complementing the questionnaire of the European Value Survey. The paper presents the survey results and uses them for the discussion of the specific political cultures of the different denominations, analysing their respective conceptions of state power and democracy in relation to the depth of church membership in the major denominations.