As this weekend Christians around the world reflect on the 500th birthday of John Calvin, one self-professed Calvinist is making headlines for very different reasons.
Xinhua reports that Calvinist priest Lorant Hegedus Jr. was one of several prominent Jobbik members presented with new uniform for Jobbik’s paramilitary wing, the Hungarian Guard Movement uniform, at a rally in Budapest on Saturday. This, despite Hungarian court orders outlawing Jobbik’s Hungarian Guard for violent attacks against Gypsies. Jobbik is deeply violent and hateful towards Hungary’s Roma communities, and its leader has made obscene comments about Jews. Adam Holland has covered recent developments concerning Jobbik and Hegedus Jr in more detail.
So who is Lorant Hegedus Jr.?
Adam Holland notes that Hegedus Jr is a minister of the Hungarian Reformed Church and a deputy leader of the far-right MIEP party. Hegedus Jr has previously been in trouble with Hungarian authorities over his incitements to hatred against Jews. He was tried in 2002 over comments that Jews should be excluded from Hungarian life, and were ‘vagabonds from Galicia.’ The verdict of incitement against him was annulled in late 2003.
As can be seen in this article (Google translate version here), Hegedus Jr. admires Dezso Szabo, whose call to physically exterminate Hungary’s Jews in 1921 preceded Hitler’s. Hegedus Jr. describes him as ‘genius’ (‘lángelme’), and also expresses admiration for Laszlo Nemeth.
Karl Pfeifer has pointed out Hegedus seemingly has many defenders in the Hungarian church. According to the ecclesiastical Court of the Reformed (Calvinist) Hungarian Church, Hegedus’ business relationship with the Gede brothers, who recently screened ‘Jud Suss’, does not offend against the good reputation of the Reformed Hungarian Church.
Whilst the BNP and its form of Christianity has been strongly condemned by the Church of England, Hegedus Jr appears to be treated with leniency by the Reformed Hungarian Church, which in turn provides him with some degree of credibility and legitimacy.
Across the political and theological spectrum, the British public has on the whole rejected the BNP’s form of Christianity (HOPE Not Hate, NORFOLK is currently doing a fantastic job following the BNP’s Robert West’s efforts to win a by-election in Norwich). It goes without saying that similarly, many Hungarian Christians are deeply disturbed by Hegedus Jr’s discriminatory words and actions. In his support of Jobbik, promotion of Nazi material and his racist articles, Hegedus Jr quite explicitly gives theological justification for fascism. In the view of many, this is an abuse of trust and ecclesiastical power.
Might I suggest that those of you who know vicars and reverends here in the UK bring this story to their attention?
The case of Hegedus Jr should not be ignored by British clergy, particularly as Jobbik now hold three seats in the European Parliament. It was indeed a remorseful Christian minister, Martin Niemoller, who wrote the unforgettable poem ‘First they came…’.
As Christian news outlet Bos News Life brings us news from Hungary about the very real concerns now facing the nation’s Roma and Jewish populations, the Reformed Hungarian Church should speak out against Hegedus Jr’s clerical fascism, which does indeed affect its reputation.