Traditional values shared by many Christians, the threat of the nearby war in Ukraine, and a sense of protection of the country from outside influences are some of the reasons, say two Hungarian evangelical leaders.
Viktor Orbán will lead the Hungarian government for another four years, after his party Fidesz won with 54% of the vote, growing its majority in the National Assembly to 136 of the total 199 seats.
An opposition coalition formed by groups from the left to the far-right could not challenge the 12-year long Prime Minister and only obtained 34% of the vote. The turnout was of 69%.
Although some in the European Union leadership had hoped for a change, in Hungary Orbán’s newest victory was expected. “The Fidesz traditional values and Christian basics, as well as their commitment to the care of families and the birth of children” are some of the reasons people voted in this direction, two evangelical leaders in Hungary told Evangelical Focus.
For Istvan Horváth and D. Szabó Dániel (Secretary General and Honorary President of the Hungarian Evangelical Alliance), there is also a sense that Orbán “cares about the nation both outside and inside its borders”, an idea that the Prime Minister strongly emphasised as he presented himself as the candidate of peace who would not lead Hungary into a war with Russia.
In Hungary, there continues to be a divide between rural areas, small cities (strongly conservative) and larger cities (especially the capital, Budapest, more progressive and critical with Orbán’s policies). What can churches do to help the population live united in this diversity? “We need to preach the same Gospel, love both communities, motivate the dialogue between the parts”, they say, and “having a missionary heart and hope for both”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine changed the debate in the weeks before the election. “The brutal, shameful and unacceptable war is dangerously close to us, not to mention for those small Hungarian-speaking groups living in areas of Ukraine”.
Christians in Hungary have been very active in welcoming refugees, hosting them in church buildings and in families. Hungary and Ukraine might have had “historical tensions” in the past, but now “the only light in the darkness” is to “be Christians in our welcome of our suffering neighbours following what the Bible says”. In these weeks, they have had many “experiences that change the hearts on both sides”. Both Hórvath and Dániel continue to be involved in transporting donations and aid to the nearby regions of Ukraine.
On 3 April, Hungarians also had the chance to vote in a referendum about an already implemented law that bans the promotion of pro-LGBT materials in schools. The poll was not valid because less than half of Hungary’s registered voters participated. “In general, Christians supported the referendum, but the opposition campaigned to avoid the issue or cast invalid votes”. Orbán’s policy of not allowing gender ideology materials in educational centres will remain untouched.
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