Intellectual fraud in Hungary

Today I will cover two topics. First, the industry that has developed to write essays and research papers, without which a Hungarian student cannot receive his diploma. Using other people’s work and passing it off as your own is plagiarism. In legal terms, it is a fraud, which is a punishable act. Second, a historical fraud: the history of the pilgrimage of Csíksomlyó/Şumuleu Ciuc.

Researchers for hire

The other day I found a fascinating article in Magyar Nemzet about a service for those who, after four years of higher education, are still unable to write a senior essay, as it is known here. In Hungary it is called “szakdolgozat.” In both cases the student is supposed to demonstrate that he/she is capable of independent and original research. It seems that many Hungarian students are either too lazy or are actually incapable of producing a research paper of about 40-50 pages. These are the people who turn to professional “manufacturers” of senior papers.

After reading the article, I managed to locate an internet site that offers a wide range of help for university students. Students can purchase not only “outlines” of topics but also complete essays to fulfill part of their course requirements. As the site explains, “during the course of college or university studies a student may have to write dozens of essays. In case you don’t have time or have difficulties with some of them, get in touch with us and we will help.” The enterprising businessmen of described the final research paper as “the greatest obstacle to receiving one’s diploma.” They claim to have supplied more than 1,600 senior papers over a ten-year period, and the testimonials coming from satisfied customers are super.

In addition to the professional senior paper factories there are those Magyar Nemzet calls the lone wolves. One freelancer admitted that he has been writing papers for others for the last eight years and up to now has “helped out about 250 people.” Some of these freelancers come cheap. The journalists found one fellow who charges only 56,000 forints (about $200) for the job, but such a low price is rare. According to Magyar Nemzet, a senior paper (B.A. or B.S.) costs 100,000-120,000 forints and a master’s thesis 112,000-140,000. If the work has to be in English, it will cost at least 200,000 forints.

After doing a little research on the subject and looking at some of the papers, I came to the conclusion that a large percentage of customers are students who attend college at night. There is a good likelihood that they really are at a loss when it comes to producing original work. And their professors don’t seem ready to guide them. So, they turn to “professionals.” Those who need help getting started but don’t want to buy a completed essay can get paper topics, outlines, and bibliographies. Such a service costs only 15,000-20,000 forints.

I may add that there is nothing new under the sun. My father told me that this was common practice at the Budapest University of Technology between the two world wars, especially when it came to writing a “doctoral dissertation.”

A historical falsification

It was all over the papers last weekend that President János Áder and his wife were going to take part in the gathering that has become a celebration of national unity across borders. Thousands of “pilgrims” gather every year in Csíksomlyó, equipped with Szekler and Hungarian flags. The pilgrimage is religious in origin, but by now religion takes a back seat to nationalism.

The story that allegedly justifies the pilgrimage is that in 1567, during Pentecost, János Zsigmond, prince of Transylvania, tried to convert the Catholic Szeklers to his own faith, Unitarianism. While the men of Csíksomlyó fought the prince’s troops, the women prayed in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, who helped them against the evil prince and his troops. The trouble with the story is that it is not true.

The statue the women of Csíksomlyó allegedly prayed to in 1567

The statue of the Virgin Mary the women of Csíksomlyó allegedly prayed to in 1567

Csíksomlyó was granted the right to hold a pilgrimage every July 2, the Day of Visitation, when the pregnant Virgin Mary visited the also pregnant St. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. It is not clear when the date of the pilgrimage was moved, most likely during the eighteenth century when a Hungarian nobleman in Habsburg service in Vienna came up with the story of János Zsigmond’s attempt to forcibly convert the Catholic Szeklers to Unitarianism. Prior to 1780, when the story was first published, no one had ever heard of the great battle between the Catholic Szeklers and János Zsigmond’s troops. It is true, however, that Unitarianism was spreading rapidly in the Szekler areas of Transylvania at that time as a result of the preaching of Ferenc Dávid, a Hungarian Reformed bishop who had turned Unitarian.

Janos Zsigmond

János Zsigmond Zápolya (1540-1571)

First, a few words about János Zsigmond Zápolya (1540-1571), son of János Zápolya, who after the battle of Mohács in 1526 was elected king of Hungary by the majority of the Hungarian nobles. János Zsigmond’s mother was Izabella, daughter of the Polish king Sigismund I.

János Zsigmond was both handsome and extremely well educated. He spoke eight languages fluently and was a great lover and supporter of music and the arts. He himself played the flute and the organ. He was known as a man of religious tolerance whose greatest achievement was the discontinuation of state religion and the declaration of freedom for all religious denominations in the territory of Transylvania. János Zsigmond made this declaration in 1568, a year after he had allegedly waged war against the Catholics at Csíksomlyó. At the Diet at Torda/Turda he issued the Edict of Torda or the Patent of Toleration:

His majesty, our Lord, in what manner he–together with his realm–legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same matter now, in this Diet, reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearings is by the word of God.

Unitarians of Transylvania—and there are 75,000 of them—have repeatedly asked György Jakubinyi, archbishop of Gyulafehérvár/Alba Iulia, to debunk the story as sheer fiction. The archbishop expressed his regret that the occasion is used to foment religious discord, but there has been no correction of the erroneous historical facts. In fact, according to those who attended the pilgrimage, the speakers told the gathering crowds the same untrue story about the intolerant Unitarian king of Hungary and later Prince of Transylvania.

Hungarians should be proud that Unitarianism as a distinct religion was born in Hungary and that the first Patent of Toleration was declared there, even as elsewhere in Europe religious wars were being fought. By the way, a good short biography of János Zsigmond is available in English online. He is a historical figure who shouldn’t be forgotten–or besmirched.

May 23, 2016
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May 24, 2016 1:14 am

Csíksomlyó pilgrimage – there’s another falsification: Many Hungarians today believe that it was banned by Romanian communist authorities, because that is what they are told.
It was never banned. People were discouraged from going. The crowd was full of securitate people watching and listening. Some of the priests who presided over the event were harassed. But it was never banned. The pilgrimage was held every year.

May 24, 2016 3:19 am
London Calling! “He was known as a man of religious tolerance whose greatest achievement was the discontinuation of state religion and the declaration of freedom for all religious denominations in the territory of Transylvania.” What a contrast to religious freedom in Hungary! With the ‘registration’ only of religions acceptable to Jehovah’s-Witness Orban – with his ‘house-worshipping’ sect of son Gaspar. And the sinister declaration (of control) from Zoltan Balog that your religion is a ‘public’ asset. It comes as no surprise that the Roman Catholic Unchristian Church won’t release Unitarians from the lie. It was most likely devised and perpetuated by them originally so they’ll not release their hold. And János Áder attending takes the biscuit! What a hypocrite. We are currently ‘enjoying’ the parade of a casket said to contain an ancient relic of a fragment of St Thomas á Becket’s elbow from Hungary on a pilgrim to Canterbury! Bah! Humbug! Balderdash! Good ol’ Henry VIII ransacked the monastries and put an end to the ‘business’ of ‘Saint’s bits and pieces’ being used to exploit the gullible for profit. Thank You so much Hungary! I’m afraid I’m too sceptical of RC ‘Saints’. Apparently Pope Paul II has been made… Read more »
May 24, 2016 7:16 am

I agree about everything you said. However, I would have expressed it in fewer words: I do not believe in anything supernatural. (Except the right to private property).

May 24, 2016 3:31 am

Not too much OT, though maybe fitting the last article better(and as a kind of answer to Tyrker):
The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales, according to new analysis.

The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population.
Says a lot about the non-importance of religion in today’s Europe – for other countries the numbers might be comparable.

Joe Simon
May 24, 2016 8:15 am

I have visited Csíksomlyó twice.
It is a moving experience just to see the church itself.
It is surrounded by an open well maintained field, with modern washrooms
all the hillside. Eva should organize a pilgrimage for you all.

May 24, 2016 8:19 am

It is moving, I agree.
Nobody needs to organize anything for others.

May 24, 2016 8:37 am

Re: the non- religion study

Would be interesting if they lasered on the non-Christian groups who are currently coming en masse and raising those great concerns of those who will die a last stand before they see a Christian Europe go out of existence.

We are only in the very early stages of that non-Christian migration into Europe so it will be interesting to see how the ‘nones’ response of that group plays out in the succeeding generations as the years roll on. Will they leave the religion of their youth or continue to make it grow and and ‘believe in the supernatural’?

I would think UK religious research is done rigorously with attention to methodological detail. But if it ever emanates from Magyarorszag in view of the noted ‘frauds’ continually being perpetrated one would have to be very wary of conclusions.
Palpable fear could have a way of jiggling up the numbers to fit ‘right’ conclusions.

May 24, 2016 12:49 pm

“Eva should organize a pilgrimage for you all.”

Include me out.

May 24, 2016 1:47 pm

Those Christians and their fairy tales …
Do you still take them for real?
And then complain about the poor uncivilised Muslims who believe in their own version of an omnipotent god …

PS and rather OT:
I “lost religion” when I was just six years old and heard that I would not start school together with my friends – because they were Catholics and would go to the Catholic school and I would go to the Protestant (Evangelische in German) school …

The crazy part was that the small town I grew up in was a kind of Catholic enclave in mainly protestant Württemberg (the country of the proud Schwabs) – because up to Napoleon it had been part of Austria.
So after more than 200 years the old principle “cuius regio eius religio” still dominated the question Catholic vs Protestant …

In the neighbouring villages most children were raised as Protestants though.

May 26, 2016 2:38 pm

Re: ‘So after more than 200 years the old principle “cuius regio eius religio” still dominated the question Catholic vs Protestant’

You know this principle would appear then to overshadow the so-called ‘non-importance’ of religion in our modern world. I think it stands that we must be careful not to assign religion to the proverbial dustbin if that is the idea. We must seek to continue to understand its role in driving human behavior. We ignore it at our peril. From one who had a few opportunities to ‘lose’ it but hasn’t…;-)…

May 24, 2016 8:51 am

Re: Janos K in the light of Janos Z …

‘An existence unmolested by the rumblings of a soul’…

I think an apt line written by a writer commenting on the psychological disposition of Donny T, that extraordinary personality… current issue of The Atlantic…

May 24, 2016 4:14 pm

May seem like a dumb question, but how do I “log in” to vote up a comment. I can comment and it shows and even says” member” instead of “guest”, but I can’t find where to log in to up vote?

May 24, 2016 5:31 pm


If you click on the ‘thumb up’ or ‘thumb down’ icon by ‘reply’, the count will increase or decrease.

May 26, 2016 12:21 pm

It won’t do it, it says I “must be logged in to vote”

May 26, 2016 2:00 pm

Strange …
You appear as a member so you are logged in.
Me, I’m logged in via wordpress and can upvote (and also edit my posts) – but I appear as guest.
So how did you log in, borbe?

Albrecht Neumerker
May 24, 2016 6:08 pm

I think it would be doe to show some more empathy to people with different understanding of religion, unless they are believers or atheists. Don’t miss understand me, I don’t like OV’s “christian-national” line. Simple just respect.

May 25, 2016 2:39 am

People with different understanding of religion deserve no less empathy and respect than people with different understanding of politics.