What Christmas markets and colorful lights can’t hide, however, is the underlying weakness of Hungarian Christianity, which is gradually degrading into a collection of shallow cultural signifiers. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán often speaks of building a “Christian Democracy” as an alternative to Western European liberalism, but such grandiose pronouncements raise the question: what does Christian Democracy mean in a country that is gradually forgetting its Christian heritage? . . .In understand why people opposed to Western European norms might focus on religion as part of a conservative, anti-liberal identity, but I wonder how much staying power it will have in a society without actual faith. American religious conservatives have had little success limiting the changes in our society, largely because even most Republicans just don't take arguments based on religious teaching seriously. I keep thinking of something conservative television personality Bill O'Reilly said at the height of the battle over gay marriage:
In Eger, a mid-sized Hungarian town two hours northeast of Budapest, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most visibly active religious communities. The native denominations have their traditions, history, and the town’s beautiful old churches, but energy and conviction are on the side of the foreign imports (Orbán’s own son is a Pentecostal preacher). Meanwhile, local enthusiasm for the Christmas season masks widespread indifference to anything that might be described as regular religious observance. In Eger, Christmas means lights, music, and festivals, not Midnight Mass.
Data on church attendance confirm this picture of a rapidly secularizing society. Although a majority of Hungarians identify as Catholic, only 12 percent regularly attend church. Less than 15 percent of Hungarians say religion is “very important” in their lives. Christmas markets, generous public subsidies to religious schools, and beautifully preserved churches have done little to arrest this steady decline.
The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. We’re Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else. That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.So a thousand years of theology is just "thumping the Bible," even to the Fox News set. But if you reject theology, what ground do you have for opposing the pressure for personal and sexual freedom that has wrought such changes in the west? Will the opposition of grouchy old folks simply be swept away by new generations who have grown up thinking of the sexual revolution as normal?
Szopen, are you still reading? What's your take on the state of religion in Poland, and its political importance?