Churches, Politics, and Society in Postcommunist East Central Europe
This chapter investigates the present situation of the churches in the difficult transitional phase of postcommunist society. My discussion is divided into two parts. The first looks into the east central European, specifically Hungarian, developmental patterns that provided the historical and cultural conditions for the present trends and dynamics, especially in the fields of culture and ideology. It includes, because of the actuality of the problem, an analysis of the differences between Eastern and Western European conservatism. The second part examines how the past and present are reflected in the situation and position of the churches at the present period and offers some speculations about future trends.
The collapse of communism in east central Europe brought about the possibility of the revitalization of churches. Religion, the main universal discourse in opposition to Marxism-Leninism, and the churches, for a long time the only possible seat of civil society, assumed their legitimate place in the newly forming system. They became part of the culture and sociopolitical system of an emerging democratic, pluralistic, liberal order in which the state and civil society would work together in a complementary, if not always harmonious, way.