Europe

Court awards 3M euros to Hungary church stripped of status

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded 3 million euros ($3.3 million) in damages to a small Hungarian Methodist church stripped of its recognized status in 2012.

Along with hundreds of other churches, the Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship lost its official status and corresponding financial advantages — like its tax-free status — due to legislation that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government said was needed to weed out "business churches" hiding behind fake religious fronts.

The law, which transferred the right to register recognized churches from the courts to parliament, cut the number of churches from around 370 to 32.

The amount of damages decided by the court based in Strasbourg, France, compensates the church led by Pastor Gabor Ivanyi, a frequent Orban critic, for lost subsidies, grants and other revenue.