Dr. Tamás Fabiny is the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, our companion synod.  He writes:

A few weeks ago a frightening video appeared on the internet. A Hungarian truck was driving on a French highway with many refugees walking by the road. In the next moment, the driver – while cursing heavily – drove into the walking group. A dozen of scared young people had to jump out of the way of the approaching truck.*

But this wasn’t enough. Some days later the driver posted the following extremely funny joke:

  • What do you like best about refugees?
  • A SCANIA skid mark.

One could say it is only an infamous opinion of a disturbed person. But what is more than frightening that within a short time, four thousand people shared this shameful joke. A local government representative of the Fidesz–Christian Democrat coalition did even continue the thoughts of the amusing truck driver, writing:

“I would also put my car to reverse. Just to make sure.”

Please do not tell me that somebody would compose such a sentence being worried about Christian Europe.

Just as in the years of the change [1989–1990] there was a rush hour on the way of Damascus, nowadays many people keep repeating this originally meaningful phrase. “Bishop, what will become of Christian Europe?” – asks an acquaintance of mine with a troubled facial expression. I ask quietly: “Why didn’t you let your child to be baptised?”.

And the skinhead who curses the Jews, the Roma and the migrants with veins pulsating on his neck is also out on a mission of protecting Christian Europe. Just as the TV-reporter who insists in a Good Friday program that Jesus was a Parthian prince and the “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” on the cross was actually a prophecy about resurrection in Hungarian which would read in a similar-sounding phrase: ‘he lives, he lives, see, even after Saturday’.

Another fellow brother has similar chaos in his thoughts when he proposes the ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ principle is coming from the New Testament – not having any idea how the sentence goes on in Jesus’ interpretation: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matt 5:39). At the same time, one mustn’t forget another word of Jesus: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16).

Presumably, the woman, who left the lecture hall when I was speaking at a forum about Jesus who was a migrant himself and who called us to love the oppressed and the marginalised, was also worried about Christian Europe.

It is also clearly visible how many committed Catholic people find the opinion of Pope Francis concerning refugees quite a puzzle. In the best case, they shake their head and say: “The Holy Father doesn’t understand the European situation yet. He is far behind us Hungarians…” In a worse case, they say with vehemence: “How did he dare to wash and even kiss the feet of a migrant? He has become a bootlicker!”

When we faced this undisputedly huge demographic movement a year ago, we were still able to see the faces.

In April, we listened to the stunning news about the Boko Haram massacre of Christians. In May, we still had it somewhere in our mind that there is a war in Syria and Iraq.

In June, we still remembered the Arabic N letters signifying the word nasrani (Christian) that the neighbours fanatised by the Islamic State were painting on houses of Christians hinting that they have to flee if they prefer to stay alive. In July, we were still startled about the photos showing bodies of drowned children and women.

In August, we still collected clothes in order to give them to the refugees through humanitarian organisations. In September, we went – out of curiosity if not else – to the Keleti railway station to see the crowd camping out there from close range.

But in October, we were already happy that there is peace in our country, in November, we found self-justification in seeing the terrible pictures of the Paris terror attack and in December, we sang “Silent night” with great piety.

In January, our positions were again reinforced by the frightening acts performed by migrant hordes on girls and women in the centre of Cologne. In February, we were already experts commenting on the Islamic threat and in March, we didn’t even notice news about sisters of Mother Teresa being killed in a Yemen convent. In April, maybe partly due to the Brussels attack, we are looking at the pictures of children drowned in the Aegean Sea impassively.

What will May and June bring? And the next year and the year after?

The reactions of people are of course related to the fact whether the satanic terror will indeed have new occurrences in Europe or – may God protect us – in our country. I dread however that many have already entered a slipway of prejudice and blind hatred from which it is hard to return to a peaceful level.

It would be good if everyone did their job: Politicians, economists, the police and the secret service. And the churches. Each his or her own task. We cannot speak differently from what Jesus taught to us.

A reporter asked the Hungarian poet László Nagy before his death what would be his message to his successors. He said: “If they will still have a human face, I send my kisses”…

How could the poet kiss the above-mentioned truck driver and the local government representative?

*Story referencing this on Huffingtonpost

First published on the Lutheran blog http://kotoszo.blog.hu/

English translation: Kinga Marjatta Pap

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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