While rainbow flags bedeck buildings in the West, a brilliant cross graced the skies of Budapest last week. What does the cross over Hungary’s Parliament mean?
A 3-meter-wide Communist red star once illuminated the sky over the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. After the Iron Curtain fell, the Hungarians removed it, and it now sits as an exhibit in the basement of the building.
This year, on the Feast of St. Stephen — a celebration held every August 20 in memory of Hungary’s first Christian king — a different sign illuminated the banks of the Danube.
A group of drones swarmed to form the Hungarian coat of arms, then the Crown of St. Stephen, and finally an enormous Christian cross. Thus concluded an evening of fireworks and other festivities.
Invited to watch the display from the terrace of the Carmelite monastery where Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has his office was American expatriate commentator Rod Dreher, who has since written of the night in his column at The European Conservative.
To Dreher, the cross over Budapest was no hollow gesture but rather “a sign of the times in the Hungarian Capital,” a physical manifestation of a political philosophy that pains and puzzles Westerners.
Even as the post-Christian West continues its downward slide into illiberal secularism — or what Dreher calls “the religion of the rainbow” — Hungary has already been to bowels of hell and back and wants no more of it.
Christianity: the Cornerstone of Western Civilisation
If four decades of Communism have taught Hungarians anything, it’s that a society built only on human ideas can only end in tyranny. Or put positively, in the words of Orbán himself, Christian culture is “the cornerstone that holds the architecture of European civilization in place.”
Orbán is a bugaboo for woke Western journalists, whose only reference point for Christian civilization is a college campus caricature of the Holy Roman Empire. What they do not understand, Orbán’s critics do not like. And what they do not like, they are quick to dismiss as anti-democratic. Google his name if you don’t believe me.
Dreher concedes that Orbán’s Hungary is “not the Garden of Eden, and Budapest is not the New Jerusalem.” However, he unapologetically asserts that “for Christians and any other kind of conservative, [Hungary] is an oasis of sanity, led by a popularly elected Christian street-fighter who never learned the word ‘winsome,’ and please God, never will.”
Orbán is a populist, and a popular one at that. In 2022, he was returned for his fifth term as prime minister, and his party was re-elected with a two-thirds supermajority.
Unlike your run-of-the-mill populists, however, Orbán has led his country not with a grab bag of grievances but a cohesive vision for his nation. Specifically, he has defended “Christian democracy,” not to be confused with Christianity itself. He explains:
Christian democracy is not about defending religious articles of faith—in this case Christian religious articles of faith. Neither states nor governments have competence on questions of damnation or salvation. Christian democratic politics means that the ways of life springing from Christian culture must be protected. Our duty is not to defend the articles of faith, but the forms of being that have grown from them. These include human dignity, the family and the nation—because Christianity does not seek to attain universality through the abolition of nations, but through the preservation of nations.
The West Does Not Have to Lose Its Way
Orbán is unafraid to prize Christian culture over ever-nebulous multiculturalism, secure borders over unchecked immigration, and a biblical conception of the family unit. Each of these he defends on explicitly Christian grounds.
What his critics fail to grasp — or perhaps refuse to see — is that Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu heads of state are given permission to do the same every day of the week. Orbán is simply asking why Christian nations are not afforded the same grace — which, as it happens, was the norm until recent decades.
We now live in a world where globalism is viewed as innovative and compassionate, while a nationalist like Viktor Orbán is derided as selfish and parochial.
What the globalists have yet to spot is their own die-hard imperialism. They will only be satisfied when nations like Hungary surrender their sovereignty to an ascendant global order. Meanwhile, they have the audacity to call Orbán anti-democratic.
The post-Christian West might be losing its way, but Orbán’s protest is that it doesn’t have to.
In the words of Dreher: “This is what it means to have a leader who believes that the faith that was inseparable from the founding of the nation is vital to its survival.”
Originally published at Intellectual Takeout.