A reader passes along Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s opening speech to those gathered in Budapest for a conference on the persecution of Christians. Excerpts:
Today I do not wish to talk about the persecution of Christians in Europe. The persecution of Christians in Europe operates with sophisticated and refined methods of an intellectual nature. It is undoubtedly unfair, it is discriminatory, sometimes it is even painful; but although it has negative impacts, it is tolerable. It cannot be compared to the brutal physical persecution which our Christian brothers and sisters have to endure in Africa and the Middle East. Today I’d like to say a few words about this form of persecution of Christians. We have gathered here from all over the world in order to find responses to a crisis that for too long has been concealed. We have come from different countries, yet there’s something that links us – the leaders of Christian communities and Christian politicians. We call this the responsibility of the watchman. In the Book of Ezekiel we read that if a watchman sees the enemy approaching and does not sound the alarm, the Lord will hold that watchman accountable for the deaths of those killed as a result of his inaction.
A great many times over the course of our history we Hungarians have had to fight to remain Christian and Hungarian. For centuries we fought on our homeland’s southern borders, defending the whole of Christian Europe, while in the twentieth century we were the victims of the communist dictatorship’s persecution of Christians. Here, in this room, there are some people older than me who have experienced first-hand what it means to live as a devout Christian under a despotic regime. For us, therefore, it is today a cruel, absurd joke of fate for us to be once again living our lives as members of a community under siege. For wherever we may live around the world – whether we’re Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians or Copts – we are members of a common body, and of a single, diverse and large community. Our mission is to preserve and protect this community. This responsibility requires us, first of all, to liberate public discourse about the current state of affairs from the shackles of political correctness and human rights incantations which conflate everything with everything else.
We are duty-bound to use straightforward language in describing the events that are taking place around us, and to identify the dangers that threaten us. The truth always begins with the statement of facts. …
We must call the threats we’re facing by their proper names. The greatest danger we face today is the indifferent, apathetic silence of a Europe which denies its Christian roots. However unbelievable it may seem today, the fate of Christians in the Middle East should bring home to Europe that what is happening over there may also happen to us. Europe, however, is forcefully pursuing an immigration policy which results in letting extremists, dangerous extremists, into the territory of the European Union. A group of Europe’s intellectual and political leaders wishes to create a mixed society in Europe which, within just a few generations, will utterly transform the cultural and ethnic composition of our continent – and consequently its Christian identity.
For us, Europe is a Christian continent, and this is how we want to keep it. Even though we may not be able to keep all of it Christian, at least we can do so for the segment that God has entrusted to the Hungarian people. Taking this as our starting-point, we have decided to do all we can to help our Christian brothers and sisters outside Europe who are forced to live under persecution.
As an aside, don’t know if you saw the news, but George Soros recently gave $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations. Soros’s charity is active in promoting immigration into Europe, and in fighting governments like Orban’s, which the foundations believe is anti-democratic and bad for civil society. It can sound good on the surface, but when you start digging, you’ll find that Soros — in coordination with the US Government under the Obama administration! — paid for the translation and distribution of a Macedonian edition of Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky’s classic book on left-wing subversion. The Orban government and Soros have been fierce critics of each other. Orban has attacked Soros -funded institutions in Hungary, in ways that strike Americans as plainly anti-democratic and illiberal. Orban supporters counter that they have no choice, given the deep pockets of globalist financier Soros, and his agenda to undermine Hungarian sovereignty. With the $18 billion gift, the governments of Eastern Europe will be facing Soros challenges for a long time to come.
Anyway, back to Christian persecution. Sociologist George Yancey writes about his research into what he calls “Christianophobia.” He finds that there hasn’t been an increase in anti-Christian hatred in the US, but there has been an increase in anti-Christian hatred expressed by the rich and powerful. Excerpt:
One reason I study Christianophobia in the United States is that hardly any other scholar does so. I remain convinced that if we do not understand this type of religious bias, we will not fully understand what is happening in our society. To this extent, my latest findings also provide insight into the current culture wars.
Many believers have complained about the increase of anti-Christian bias in our society. The fact is, in my research I’ve found no evidence that it has been increasing in raw numbers. But I have found a shift in its locus, moving toward increasing social power among those who hate conservative Christians. While being white, male and highly educated puts one in an excellent position to have social power, having wealth really increases the damage one can do to others. So the increase many are feeling in anti-Christian bigotry isn’t the result of more people hating them. It’s the effect of having more powerfulpeople hating them, and wielding that power against them.
This means there has been a sea change in this cultural struggle. Powerful economic interests have swung their weight behind anti-Christian tides. There was a time when one could argue that business, especially big business, was supportive toward Christians. Now big business seems more bent on harming Christian efforts than supporting them. My latest research reinforces that argument.
This leads to a very important implication: Big business is not the friend of Christians. With notable exceptions, of course, the wealthy do not support conservative Christians.
Some people like to paint the current cultural struggle as one of powerful Christians versus victimized others. As it concern economic power, this is the opposite of the truth. Today Christians working to retain a public voice do so at an economic disadvantage. I see no reason to expect this disadvantage to disappear in the near future.
Strategically, then, trying to use financial resources to overcome Christianophobia is doomed to fail. It’s aiming straight at their point of greatest strength.
But this does not mean that Christians should simply give up doing what we can do. We can build up economic enterprises within our own communities. As much as possible, we can cut back our reliance on powerful economic institutions. We can try to stop supporting their political interests and look more towards local, and smaller businesses whenever possible. After all, why give more money to those who want to use their financial resources to harm you?
We have to think creatively about how we can economically flourish in a post-Christian society. We’ve just entered into this new territory, and I have no idea what may come of this creative thinking. Yet I hope that by recognizing these new economic realities, we’ll be motivated to kick off a discussion on new directions we can take.
Read the whole thing. In The Benedict Option, I write about the same phenomenon: that conservative Christians have to get over the standard Republican Party idea that Big Business is neutral, or even our friend. It isn’t, and it isn’t — quite the opposite, in fact.
Note well that George Soros-funded groups attack traditional Christian values under the guise of advancing LGBT rights. Viktor Orban may not be your cup of tea, but when he talks about anti-Christian policies promoted by George Soros, he focuses on European immigration, but that is by no means the limit of Soros’s activism. Soros is one of the rich white male Christianophobes of whom George Yancey writes. Orban is illiberal, no doubt about it. But as Ryszard Legutko has written, when the mechanisms of post-Christian liberal democracy are being used to dismantle traditional culture and religion, you have to fight back somehow.
George Soros just gave $18 billion to his foundations. Think about that. What do the poorer nations of eastern Europe, those who do not want to give up their culture and religion, have to fight back with?
UPDATE: Sorry to disappoint, alt-rightists, but I criticize Soros here without sharing your disgusting anti-Semitism. In fact, I am philo-Semitic.
UPDATE.2: Reader Hector St. Clare:
Lots of commenters are illustrating that they care more about the survival of liberal democracy than about the survival of Christianity, or for that matter the survival of Hungary.
That’s the neuralgic point, I think, and the one that Legutko makes in his book The Demon In Democracy. Legutko points out that liberal democracy is not a neutral process or way of thinking about society, but it is more like a religion or an ideology — one that today, has morphed into something incompatible with other values, like religious and national identity. What happens when what calls itself liberal democracy appears to demand the dissolution of a people’s nation and/or their religion?
UPDATE.3: I challenged reader Benjamin to back up his claims that the Christian Right is in charge, and is waging “war” on LGBT folks. He responded in an email:
In your response to my comment on “White, Male, Educated — And Christianophobic,” you asked me to send a link to back up my claims about a “war” on LGBT Americans. (of which I am one)
The White House is under the direct influence of the Christian Right, and I believe that this firmly puts the Christian Right in charge. This doesn’t mean they have control over all of the government, but, they have enough for me to confidently say that they’re in charge right now.
As for the “war,” well, the Justice Department has said that our rights to any economic security are subordinate to the whims of people, public servants, and corporations based on religious belief.
I don’t know how else to interpret that except to think that the Christian Right poses a clear and present danger to our safety and livelihoods. This is seemingly what they wanted as policy, and they got it done. I consider that to be a declaration of legal war on myself, my loved ones, and friends.
Just today, we saw this policy continue as GSA has erased us from their nondiscrimination protections. Once again, how else are we supposed to perceive this?
Considering the Law of Merited Impossibility, I can only say that whatever room there may have been for compromise is absolutely gone.
I understand that the Christian Right wants to consolidate power while they have it. I realize that we’re the targets, but, if they don’t mind being this much of a menace, how else should we respond except to weaken them as much as possible? That’s just what you do to an enemy in any form of combat, be it physical, or metaphorical, or spiritual.
Thanks for the excellent writing.
Thanks for your response, Benjamin. On the Justice Department story link from the Atlantic, AG Sessions instructed federal agencies to:
“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming.”
That, to me, is a fair compromise, especially given that discrimination against LGBTs is rapidly diminishing in this country. What you believe, if I’m reading you correctly, is that there are no circumstances under which religious people should be shielded under law and policy from any kind of discrimination against LGBTs. To be clear, I don’t think that there ought to be a blanket exemption for religious believers — and neither does Jeff Sessions (“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one…”). Sessions’s order does not compel government agencies to discriminate against LGBTs, but if there is a conflict, and there is a sincere religious objection at stake, then the agencies are to err on the side of religious liberty.
I see no problem with that; in fact, I think it’s good policy. Religious liberty is one of our most basic and important rights. It is not an absolute right, but it is an important one to protect, especially when religious believers are an unpopular minority.
Why do you feel the need to describe this as “a declaration of war”? It is a policy you dislike, for perfectly understandable reasons, but “war”? Really? They’re going into government agencies and rounding up LGBTs? I suggest that the extreme language here makes it harder for you to grasp that the other side might have a point (an error conservative Christians often make too).
On the GSA thing, if true — and the GSA denies it — then of course I see that as a rollback of your protections. Personally, I don’t know that I would support it. I would have to know more about it, but based on what little I know from the article, I’d say there’s a good chance I would side with you on this one, because it has nothing to do with religious liberty. In other words, I am willing to compromise on the issue.
It is impossible to have full gay rights and full religious liberty at the same time. It is possible to have a compromise where neither side gets everything that they want, but we keep the social peace. Correction: it is possible in theory to have that.