This week, the Hungarian Prime Minister (Viktor Orban) stepped in front of the cameras and made a number of comments. I'd normally say this.....if you popped his picture up in front of a thousand French folks, or a thousand Germans....there might be one in the crowd of each who might recognize the guy. Otherwise.....he's a virtual unknown outside of Hungary.
He made this remarkably short and blunt talk over the refugee and immigration crisis....saying one of the chief problems here for the Syrians arriving....was that Hungary and Europe itself.....was Christian in terms of an identity and this mixing of Muslims and Christians won't work. I've kinda noticed that German journalists won't talk much about the support of Orban in Hungary. From Friday night's state-run German news....they interviewed a couple of Hungarians off the street and they spoke to the defense of Obran....agreeing for the most part.
The question is.....across Europe itself.....does Europe have a Christian identity?
Toward the end of the Roman era....the mid-400 period....the Catholic Church emerged out of Rome and used the Legions to embark on a join-up-with-the-Catholic Church-or-face-the-consequences campaign.
There were literally hundreds of religions around Europe, beyond the Catholic Church and it's brand of Christianity. It took only a generation to dissolve the bulk of those religions and force the Catholic brand of religion on the public. To say that it was readily accepted after that point....would be a joke. It simply created a hostile and frustrated public....who either went with an extreme acceptance of Christianity or an extreme hatred of Christianity.
In 1525, two characters are going to create a climatic and epic period. Martin Luther will challenge the Catholic Church itself and work on a German language edition of the Bible....which will generate interest in a dozen other countries to translate the Latin texts to their own language. Gutenberg will design the printing press....which goes into an evolutionary stage with mass-printing and mass-education.
In a hundred years (1619 to be precise)....what these two create....twists itself into the Thirty Years War, which a war for roughly nineteen of the thirty years over the Catholic Church and religion. The remaining eleven years....it's more or less a war about Lords, Serfs, and rights. What you can generally say is that there is a great deal of negativity existing over Christianity (not a majority but certainly in the range of thirty percent of Europe).
If you walked around Germany and the Netherlands today....you'd generally find a large segment of society which is non-religious. It might not go past the forty percent point, but it says a lot about the past 1,500 years and things evolve.
I would generally make these three observations.
First, if I were a Muslim and walking into the midst of Germany.....I might question myself and the strength of those with me to stay Muslim. As months and years go by....the odds are that this anti-religious attitude would come to face my faith and challenge myself. But if my priority is simply finding an open society, with great economic potential, and opportunities in abundance....then I might say the risk to losing my religion is worth the effort.
Second, Christian values and identities are evolving....they are not stable. If you asked some German or some Hungarian on the street to state or define such values and identities....they'd probably look at you and prefer to answer a question over 'off-sides' in soccer, traffic circles, or taxation issues. It's not that simple. In fact, if you asked a Muslim guy to define Muslim values....he'd probably suggest you talk to his Mullah or religious instructor...he'd rather talk about 'off-sides' in soccer, traffic circles, or taxation issues himself.
Third and final.....if there is a true Hungarian argument here....it's the fact that if ten refugees showed up in some Hungarian town and needed support and help....they'd be able to provide four-star support for those ten. If it's fifty such refugees....the help among them would rate a three-star rating. If there were 200 such refugees....the help and support would likely go down to a two-star situation. The reality is....Hungarians know that they will do a good job with only a certain particular number in mind. Call it realistic or rational or sane.....but it's truth by their view of the situation.
What I'll be curious about....is if some political Sunday night chat forum occurs in the near future, and they decide to chat about Germans and their Christian identity. I'm guessing three minutes into the chat forum.....they will start drifting off toward 'off-sides' in Soccer, traffic circles, or taxation issues.