The Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship (MET) led by pastor Gábor Iványi has been registered as a church following a court’s rejection of a prosecutor’s appeal, the church said on Friday.
The ruling does not mean, however, that MET has regained its past legal status, the church said in a statement, explaining that this would require an agreement with the Hungarian state. The statement noted that MET lost its status following the enactment of the 2011 law on the legal status of churches and religious denominations. The organisation eventually turned to the European Court of Human Rights, which ordered the Hungarian government to pay compensation to MET. In 2013, Hungary’s Constitutional Court ruled that the MET had been stripped of its legal status in a manner that was unconstitutional and ordered the state to restore its church status. MET said that though this ruling remained valid to this day, the government had continually ignored it and was preventing it from being enforced. After more than 90,000 taxpayers opted to donate one percent of their income tax to MET over the last two years, “the court had no choice but to register” MET and then declare it a church in spite of an attempted appeal by the prosecutor’s office, the statement said. The next step, however, requires that the state sign an agreement with MET mandating the organisation’s performance of its public duties, which must then be approved by parliament, they added. MET said it had sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén in the matter but had yet to receive a reply.