Is Zoltán Balog emotionally unfit to oversee the ministry of human resources?

It’s hard to pick the least sympathetic minister in Viktor Orbán’s cabinet, but Zoltán Balog, the former Calvinist minister, is definitely somewhere at the top of the list. Admittedly, my acquaintance with Calvinist ministers is limited, but I imagine that a good minister should be a compassionate human being who is ready to listen to the joys and sorrows of others. Someone who can offer solace. Someone who knows the meaning of empathy. Someone whose love of his fellow human beings is discernible in all his actions and words. Although I have never met him in person, when I think of a man who is the embodiment of the ideal clergyman it is Gábor Iványi who comes to mind, the Methodist minister whose church has been the victim of Viktor Orbán’s inexplicable hatred.

On the other hand, Orbán became very fond of Zoltán Balog, who joined the still liberal Fidesz party in 1991 as an adviser on church-related matters. In his student days and even later, Balog was highly critical of the conservative Hungarian Reformed Church and, in turn, the church hierarchy believed he should probably not become one of them. First, he was expelled from the Hungarian Reformed College of Debrecen and later from the Debrecen University of Reformed Theology. Although for a while he worked as a practicing minister, soon enough, after 1990, he drifted toward a political career. In 1993 and 1994 Viktor Orbán was refashioning the liberal Fidesz into a Christian Democratic party and was in need of people, Catholics as well as Protestants, who knew something about Christian churches.

By the time Viktor Orbán became prime minister in 1998 and Balog his chief adviser, Balog had abandoned his earlier liberal, even radical, ideas about relations between church and state and about a thorough revamping of the Hungarian Reformed Church. As time went by, he became more and more conservative, even radical in some ways. He was one of the first Fidesz critics of “politically correct” speech. He fought any legal restriction of “hate speech” and made some unfortunate remarks about the situation of the Roma when he claimed that the greatest danger the Gypsies face is not racism but hopelessness. Some of his earlier liberal friends didn’t know what to make of his sudden metamorphosis. One thing is sure. Balog today is one of the greatest apologists of the regime Viktor Orbán has built since 2010.

These are the bare facts of Balog’s transformation from Protestant minister to super minister of “human resources,” the person who is supposed to oversee education, health, sports, culture, churches, and family and youth. One would think that a former Protestant minister would be well suited to manage such human endeavors, yet over the years it became evident that Balog is singularly unfit for the job. Almost every time he opens his mouth he insults somebody or at least presents himself as an uncaring person.

Balog’s “mishaps” are too numerous to recount here, but I recommend my post from 2013 on the Hungarian Reformed Church Charity’s brilliant move of collecting 40 kids who live in poverty for a luxury dinner in the Budapest Hilton Hotel. They were served goose consomé with vegetables and rotini, chicken breast with a mushroom sauce prepared with Calvados, vegetable lasagna, broccoli, and rice. The dessert was yogurt strawberry cake. All this for kids who like pizza, hamburgers, and gyros. But then came the Reverend Balog’s speech in which explained that perhaps these children, when they have a job or “perhaps even go to college, who knows,” will be able to afford to eat in a restaurant like this. Or perhaps they will be able to visit Paris or Cluj/Kolozsvár. It was an incredible performance.

Since this incident, there were many others that demonstrated Balog’s insensitivity. For example, a couple of months ago at a gathering to celebrate the Day of the Ambulance Service he gave a speech at a breakfast meeting held in a relatively expensive restaurant in Budapest. It is a well-known fact that the members of the ambulance service receive shamelessly low salaries. Balog began his speech by cracking a “joke” about his audience whose members “eat breakfast here every day.” No one laughed.

More serious was when Balog and the newly appointed chief of the National Ambulance Service gave a press conference about the dreadful accident involving Hungarian high school students, 16 of whom burned to death in the bus near Verona. Balog introduced the new director by saying that “Gábor Csató just took over the leadership of the organization and it was a real baptism by fire, if one can say such a thing.” I guess one can, but one shouldn’t.

Balog made headlines a couple of days ago when he gave an interview on ATV’s Egyenes beszéd (Straight Talk). He explained that Hungarian healthcare is not as bad as one would think after reading the Hungarian media, which entertains the public with fake news which in turn has a negative effect on healthcare itself. The conversation turned to the case of a little girl who was being operated on but since the Országos Kardiológiai Intézet (National Institute of Cardiology) doesn’t have a CT machine she had to be transported to another hospital in the middle of the operation. Balog saw no problem with this situation. At least there is another hospital to which she could be transported. Instead of talking about the lack of CT and MRI machines, the media should concentrate on the higher salaries doctors are getting thanks to the government. He seemed to be totally unsympathetic to the little girl’s plight, who died a few hours after she was transported to the other hospital.

Most likely the trip to another hospital was not the cause of the girl’s death, but people nonetheless felt that Balog’s reaction, as usual, was inappropriate to the occasion. HVG pointed out that there are two possibilities. First, Balog may have been unaware of the death of the patient about whom many articles had been written lately. Or, second, he knew about it and yet showed no sympathy or emotion. In the former case, he is not fit to be a cabinet minister, and in the latter, he is unfit to be a clergyman.

July 13, 2017
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B-uda
Guest

he might be the key link between moscow and budapest. only this may explain his lock on this regime.

Michael Kaplan
Guest

Thanks for another insightful article. Yes, this “minister” is unfit for his government post, let alone a clergy post. The land of my ancestors, let alone my homeland, the USA are suffering these days from such “ministers”.

Guest

Yes, those religious freaks are on the rise everywhere – it looks like humanity is on its way back to the Middle Ages!

Creationists like Pence in high positions, who would have thought this possible?

Rather OT or not?
In March 2017, Oklahoma State Representative George Faught said rape and incest are the “will of God.”
http://www.snopes.com/oklahoma-representative-god/

As I’ve written before there’s not much of a difference in ideology between these people and Daesh/ISIS …

wrfree
Guest

Pence a creationist? Holey Moley I didn’t know. No wonder the ‘science’ guys are stirring.
I know he’ll be taking some pix on Noah’s Ark that was just built for ‘deluvian’ old times sake.

old 1914
Guest

To stay with the Balog subject:
The Karl Eberhard University – https://www.uni-tuebingen.de/en/university.html – could strip Balog of his degree.
He could be declared unfit for the name of a human being.

exTor
Guest

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https://www.facebook.com/aScienceEnthusiast/videos/1390574757637632

The God-fearing man & the Bullshitter. Trump professed preelection to being a Godist, however he is further from God than I (an atheist) am.

The Facebook link shows a short C-SPAN video where Mike Pence gives a House of Representatives speech bemoaning the fact that Evolution –a ‘theory’ in MP’s estimation– is taught in highschools, yet Creationism –also a ‘theory’ in MP’s belief– is not taught.

To give Pence his due, he spoke well, necessarily befitting someone trained in law, something his boss cannot even conceive of doing. Too bad Pence does not have a mind tuned to science. Thank Christ that Creationism has lost every legal challenge for inclusion on highschool curricula.

Relatedly, it would be a mistake to [try to] get rid of Donald Trump, who is further to the left of most of the Republican Party. Pence as US prez would be even more of a disaster, although handshakes would not be a problem.

MAGYARKOZÓ

dos929
Guest
These cronies in the FIDESZ and in the Hungarian government that call themselves Christian Democrats are neither Christians nor democrats. If anything, they have done more damage to the religious beliefs of those Hungarians that prescribe to the Christian faith than any other agnostic government before them. The never ending giving of endless financial support to the selected group of churches whilst discriminating others and the wholesale renovation of the largely empty churches whilst the hospital system is crumbling is the hallmark of the regime. In fact the whole country is sliding down on the slippery dip to complete social, economic and moral disaster under the talentless FIDESZ leadership. And those few amongst them that have some education and talent sold their souls for positions of power, however the vast majority of the government ministers, under secretaries and the likes are of such morons that in civil life they couldn’t hold on to any respectable job. Balog is not the exception, but the rule… And this kind of ‘governance’ (if one can call it governance at all) will continue to the day when the masses will tolerate it no longer, and since there is no real hope of bringing down… Read more »
Jean P.
Guest

Balogh´s lack of compassion is in tune with Calvinist theology which differs from other protestant theologies in its emphasis on predestination. Calvinists believe that God picked those who he will save and bring with him to Heaven before the world was created. They also believe that those people God did not elect will go to Hell. There is no reason to have compassion with the latter because they were rejected by God. The down to earth interpretation of this doctrine is that success in life is a sure sign of being among the elected whereas misfortune is a sure sign of being rejected by God. The Calvinist Lazar expressed it this way: “Those who own nothing are nothing”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination

Guest

Balogh as a Calvinist priest reminds me of the priest that was responsible for the last killing of a “witch” in Switzerland – he looks the type!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_G%C3%B6ldi

exTor
Guest

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Göldi

You and Jean P. have augmented Zoltán Balog’s name with an extra aitch, likely because you two are used to seeing Éva Balogh’s name.

A tip: when you copy an URL (such as you did with the one for Anna Göldi), get rid of the characters that stand in for diacriticked letters such as ‘ö’. I’ve recreated the Wikipedia URL to show how it should have looked.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

Thanks, exTor, for the correction!

Btw my ancestors, the Prussians, have the “honour” of having done the last state-sponsored witch killing in 1831 afaik.
But the German wiki also tells us that my ancestors on my mother’s side at the university in Tübingen were very acitive in the fight against the witch-killers.

PS:
Calvin himself had more than 30 women killed as witches – so Balog follows an old tradition …

exTor
Guest

Oh Christ, a religionist [Zoltán Balog] wielding a MAGAT [Make America Great Again Trumpist] talking point [fake news] to defend himself.

Heaven forfend !!!

Isn’t someone who is [per HVG] “not fit to be a cabinet minister … [and] … unfit to be a clergyman” somehow perfect Fidesz human material ???

MAGYARKOZÓ

exTor
Guest

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MAGYARKOZÓ

wrfree
Guest

Yes.

‘There is a species of person called a ‘Modern Churchman’ who draws the full salary of a beneficed clergyman and need not commit himself to any religious belief’ ..Evelyn Waugh, the great English and Catholic novelist

Mr. Balog now gets it both ways. He’s dropped the religion bit, better paid and can indulge himself as a foodie. Manna from heaven. A ‘modern politician’ of the day. And the obsequiousness is pathetic. VO is the Waughian ‘Lord Copper’ who is feared and invites subserviance by underlings.

wrfree
Guest

So…VO as ‘Lord Copper’ and Zoli ‘in chambers’.. question and answer session .. how language plays around ‘truth’.. ‘Yes’ is yes! But saying ‘no’ well…..

Lord Copper: ‘By Jove Zoli who do you think begat Calvinism? I’d say it had to be John Calvin himself. Is that not so Zoli?

Zoli: ‘Yes definitely! It had to be so! There is no other! It surely is him!’

Lord Copper: And as to the first Pope I would think it just had to be none other than Nero who I should say always had the lives of Christians uppermost on his mind. Is that not so Zoli?

Zoli: ‘Up to a point Lord Copper.. up to a point!’

Perhaps a ‘typical’ day in the lives of officials doing the PM’s work.

exTor
Guest

Evelyn Waugh’s first wife was Evelyn Waugh [née Gardner]. The failure of that marriage impelled Waugh to convert to Catholicism, having drifted away from Anglicanism. Waugh’s newfound Catholicism backgrounded his Brideshead Revisited, written during WW2, on unpaid leave, recovering from a parachute accident. He revised it a decade and a half later [1959] after having found that he “was appalled” [letter to Graham Greene] upon having reread it.

MAGYARKOZÓ

wrfree
Guest

exTor you are right on that. And I would suggest each time Mr. Waugh put out a book some readers would be appalled as they slowly got the feeling that a character he portrayed comes close to presenting a rather biting, obnoxious and savage caricature of themselves. Waugh I’d say today would arguably have much to skewer and attack in modern day Magyar political and social ‘characters’ just as he did in in his various novels.
His ‘Christianity’ was pious and bound by faith but certainly not one of ‘turning the cheek’.

Ferenc
Guest

The HVG article Eva is referring to is titled “Balog, az alkalmatlan” (Balog, the unfit one), the url of the article is given an even more clear opinion: http://hvg.hu/velemeny/20170713_Balog_takarodj (Balog GET LOST!).

HVG revealed more about the healthcare in Hungary and the minister responsible for it:
*The government is hiding the problems in the healthcare system, hard to phantom –
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170712_magyar_egeszsegugy_problemai
*According a doctor Balog lied about the CT – http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170713_balog_ct_heim_pal_szent_istvan
*Response by the director of the ‘Kardiológiai Intézet’ (incl.opinion of the child’s grandmother) –
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170713_nyitott_mellkassal_szallitott_kislany_megszolalt_a_kardiologiai_intezet_foigazgatoja

Member

Your impression of Gabor Ivanyi as an ideal clergyman is correct. I find him and his brother, Mihaly, both very kind and sympathetic people. I have not met his other brothers, but assume they are the same.

exTor
Guest

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https://www.voanews.com/a/european-union-takes-legal-action-hungary-nongovernmental-organization-law/3943251.html

Article concerns the EU legal action initiated [Thursday the 13th (of July)] against Hungary re its antiNGO Orbán-implemented law June 2017.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Member

Since Balog speeks German, he is sometimes invited for interviews or speeches to Germany. I have seen him once in TV in a talk show together with György Dalos, a writer and historian, who lives in Germany.
Since then I use to call Balog the wolf in sheeps’ clothing.
He presented himself as the holy Mother Teresa and the Fidesz government as a charitable organization, of lying.

In 2013, after already 3 years of dismanteling democracy in Hungary, Balog was awarded the Grand Cross of the order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by the German president Joachim Gauck:

http://www.budapest.diplo.de/Vertretung/budapest/de/04_20Pol/Bilaterale__Beziehungen/130528__Balog__Verdienstorden.html

Member

Gauck himself was also an evangelical lutherian pastor in East Germany during communist times.
Gauck was always eager to condemn the past communist regimes and praise liberty. Obviously he should have better taken a look at what is going on in the presence.

Guest

If all priests were like Gauck, the world would be a better place!

Winston, you might have mentioned that Gauck also was the head of the “lustration office” aka “Gauck Behörde” which was responsible for opening the archives of the East German secret police (Stasi). I’ve surely written about this before:
A friend of mine who left East Germany in early 1989 with his family told me that the Stasi had more than a thousand pages on him – many of them reports by (what he thought to be …) his friends.
Gauck’s activities there were really important.

And the sad point:
Hungary hasn’t had lustration in almost 30 years – no one really knows what kind of info the police collected about them – and Fidesz (of course …) is not intereted in letting them know. They have too many corpses in the cellar …

Jean P.
Guest

“Gauck himself was also an evangelical-lutheran pastor…” This sentence implies that Balog was an evangelical-lutheran minister which he wasn’t. He was a minister of the Reformed Church and therefore a Calvinist. There are two main branches of protetstant churches in Europe, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church which follows Luther and the Reformed Church which follows Calvin. Predestination is the hallmark of the latter.

Member

O.K, I thought that was something very similar. In Germany we have almost only the lutheran sort. I also was one, before I quit a long time ago.

Guest

Winston, just read this description of Calvinism on wiki:
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinismus
It’s one of the ugliest “religions”, almost unthinkable. You are predestined by god to be rich or poor, go to hell or to heaven etc – so if you have nothing you are nothing …
Perfect for a mafia dictatorship!
Where I gre up in Southern Germany there was a pocket of Calvinists – horrible people, some younger ones left that church, they had been severely damaged emotionally – as bad as the Mormons etc!

And as I wrote before Calvin liked to see not only witches tortured and burned, but everybody who did not agree with his theology …
A really bad specimen of Christianity – comparable to the worst of today’s Muslims!

Member

Thank you Wolfi, I read it.
I wonder, what that preaching of predestination is all about.
Even, if there was predestination, we wouldn’t know, what we are predestined to, so it’s irrelevant, if there is or no.
Christians should better focus on using Jesus as a model, but to think about strange stuff, then we would have a better world.

Ferenc
Guest

On his official CV (http://www.kormany.hu/hu/emberi-eroforrasok-miniszteriuma/a-miniszter/eletrajz, the Hungarian one as the English version isn’t updated after 2012) you can see that he’s pretty proud about all awards and such he received. He lists a total of 9:
*2pcs before 2010, both Hungarian
*7pcs after 2010, 3 Hungarian, 2 German (incl.the one Winston mentions), 1 Austrian/Hungarian and 1 Greek/Cyprus
The last one listed, seems to be from “Deutsche WirtschaftsClub (Ungarn)”, a German Business Club (in Hungary, http://www.dwc.hu/). DWC has sections in Budapest, Gyor and Kecskemet and has German sponsors like, Audi (in Gyor), Mercedes (in Kecskemet), Bosch and Lurdy Haz (both Budapest). So it seems that, in order to have nice businesses in Hungary, those German companies need to spray the HU government with some medals and awards; next to some ‘unofficial fees’, of course…..

Ferenc
Guest

OT – CEU
Szijjártó made an agreement with the state of Maryland about McDaniel College in Budapest (http://mcdaniel.hu/).
Source: https://444.hu/2017/07/14/szijjarto-megallapodott-maryland-allammal-a-budapesti-mcdaniel-college-tovabbi-mukodeserol
According a statement from the ministry, this confirms that “everyone, who wants to make an agreement with the Hungarian government, can do so.”
Well as usual the government insinuates a lot and leaves open one main question: Can everyone, with whom the Hungarian government does NOT want to make an agreement, FORGET IT?

Some weeks ago talks have started between HU government and the state of New York about CEU, so far no news about any result(s).

Istvan
Guest

Hungarians who lived under Russian rule will find this story funny or tragic depending on your sense of humor. Today the news service AP ran this story http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/russian-american-lobbyist-says-he-was-in-trump-sons-meeting/ar-BBEoOCm?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

The long and short of it is Trump’s idiot son during his secret meeting with the Russians on the stuff they had on Clinton prior to his father’s election had in the room one person named Rinat Akhmetshin. Mr. Akhmetshin has been identified as a former Soviet military intelligence officer, but he says that is not true and he was never trained as a “spy.” He says he was just drafted like any other Russian. The official spokesperson for Putin said “We don’t know anything about this person.”

Any Hungarians believe Akhmetshin? Not even Orban I would bet.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘Reconnect Hungary’

Mr. Balog appears to be involved in this cultural program offering Canadian and American youth to experience their roots and cultural heritage. Most I believe are sons and daughters of those who left the country to seek a new life away from Magyarorszag. And they come with ‘baggage’ as they visit their ancestral country.

Because of that there has to be a relevant question raised to Mr. Balog where considering the extremely divisive state of the country politically and the dissemination and sowing of hatreds how the Reconnect presentation jibes within a Magyar ‘culture’ where certain vile disgraceful posters exist within a ‘democracy’. Truly for those youth their naivete will be tested as they see how ‘realties’ become foggy as they inhabit a ‘culture’ that has problems of identity.

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