In the Streets of Budapest: Speaking Out for Religious Freedom
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY—Scientologists from 27 nations demonstrated their commitment to religious freedom, joining Hungarian members of their religion in a march through the city to protest illegal government intrusion into the peaceful practice of their faith.
The marchers—1,500 strong, including many friends from other religions—gathered at Deák Ferenc Square in the center of Budapest where a prominent member of the Hungarian Church, Timea Vojtilla, expressed the Scientologists’ determination to overcome all barriers to freedom and to establish genuine religious freedom for everyone.
After citing the nation’s proud legacy of freedom, extending back to the Edict of Torda in 1568—an enlightened statement of religious tolerance—she declared, “We are here to show and demand that our country, Hungary, can return to be the home of religious freedom again.” Based upon a 2011 law that withdrew recognition from all but 14 of 362 religious organizations, the national government has been discriminating against an array of faiths, including non-Catholic Christians, Jews, Muslims, members of Eastern religions, and Scientologists.
Vojtilla then introduced author Istvan Nemere, who spoke passionately about experiences during Hungary’s Communist era, when freedom was savagely suppressed. His message emphasized how vital the cause of religious freedom is to the future of the nation and its people.
Following the speeches, marchers made their way through the streets of Budapest, across the Danube River via the famous Chain Bridge, and on to Alexander Palace, home of the nation’s president.
Actress and humanitarian Ruddy Rodriguez, who flew in from South America to support the demonstrators, spoke about the ever-growing importance in today’s world of working for increased religious tolerance and peace.
As the procession moved through the streets, actors depicted for onlookers some of history’s most egregious violations of religious tolerance and freedom, such as the Inquisition. Marchers from many countries unfurled their national flags to demonstrate solidarity with the messages of liberty and tolerance, while drums thundered and chants for religious freedom filled the air.
At Alexander Palace, as the historical re-enactors flanked the colorful stage, the president of the Church of Scientology of Hungary, Attila Miklovicz, read a declaration from the Church’s members demanding freedom to practice their religion without governmental hindrance or persecution. It was a strong message that resonated with the attendees of many faiths.
At the close of the event, Timea Vojtilla read each line of the Creed of the Church of Scientology. As she did so, the crowd repeated the words. This was in itself a moving affirmation of freedom and human rights, and a fitting culmination to the march that demonstrated their commitment to stand up for their religion and for freedom itself regardless of any attempt at oppression.