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The Cross Flies Over Budapest: What America Should Learn From How Hungary Celebrates Its Christian Heritage


“Christianity is not just a religion; it’s the moral and spiritual foundation of our great nation. It should guide our actions, inform our decisions, and be at the heart of our politics.”


On Sunday, August 20, Hungary celebrated the annual Feast of St. Stephen in honor of the first Christian king of Hungary, who ruled from 1000 to 1038. While the Hungarians have celebrated this national religious holiday for centuries, this year’s celebration ended in something particularly spectacular — and special.

Rod Dreher, a conservative blogger who now lives in the capital city of Budapest, described what took place in touching detail:

“This year I received an invitation to watch the fireworks over the Danube from the terrace of the Carmelite monastery where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has his office. I stood with a crowd of partygoers oohing and aahing at the spectacular blasts illuminating the city below.

When smoke from the final explosions was still dissipating, a swarm of drones coalesced over the Danube in front of the Parliament. They formed the Hungarian coat of arms. Then, dissolving, the came back together in the distinct shape of the Crown of St. Stephen.

And then, the final image of the day: the drones came together to form a cross of light over Budapest. I took the video above with my smartphone.

It nearly brought me to tears.”

Dreher went on to explain that one of the reasons it was so encouraging — and sorrowful — to see the cross so prominently displayed over Budapest in proud homage to their Christian heritage is that it reminds him of what we used to have in America — and what we have lost to the relentless onslaught of secular liberalism.

In 1956, New York City lit up its skyline with three crosses displayed by light configurations over three major skyscrapers. Can you imagine that happening today? It would take a miracle; it would take revival.

No, today in America, and in much of the Western world (once prominently and unashamedly Christian), we are much more likely to see — and indeed we do see — another symbol displayed that signifies our new “national religion”: the LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Pride flag.

Dreher says that he “texted the image to a Spanish Catholic friend, who was both shocked and delighted. He said that the only similar drone sky-art his own government would likely muster would be an LGBT Pride flag. It’s true in contemporary America as well. Liberalism’s successor ideology — wokeness — also has a successor religion: the religion of the rainbow, not the cross.”

He hits the nail on the head: In today’s world, we are in the midst of an epic battle between the “religion of the rainbow” and the “religion of the cross.”

This is why, for so many Christians who desire to rebuild a Christian society in America, Hungary gives us hope — and an example to follow.

Under the leadership of President Viktor Orbán, Hungary has rebelled against the secular, anti-Christian global order. President Orbán has become well known for his pro-Christian policies and his efforts to promote Christian values in Hungary and around the world. In a speech in 2018, he vowed to preserve Hungary’s Christian culture and to build an old-school Christian democracy rooted in European traditions.

Orbán has styled his political program as a defense of “Christian liberty.” He argues that Hungary has historically been a Christian island in a sea of foreign threats, such as Soviet communism and German Nazism. Today, he says, it must be defended against Islam, illegal immigration, globalism, and liberalism.

Orbán’s policies include the promotion of traditional family values and the protection of Hungary’s borders from illegal immigration. He has also been known for his defense of biblical sexual ethics and outspoken opposition to the radical LGBTQIA+ agenda.

In his own words, he has unapologetically argued:

“We are working on building an old-school Christian democracy, rooted in European traditions… we believe in the importance of the nation, and in Hungary we do not want to yield ground to any supranational business or political empire.”

Summarizing the impact of Orbán’s pro-Christian political leadership, Dreher says, “This is what it means to have a leader who is a Christian and not ashamed of it. 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.”

Here in America, it is good and right for Christians to both long for — and work to elect — our own political leaders who are not ashamed of the Christian faith. And it is good and right to pray that God would give us leaders who, once again, understand that Christianity was the foundation of our great nation and that honoring Christ as King, both in our private lives and in the public square, is vital to our survival.

Christianity is not just a religion; it’s the moral and spiritual foundation of our great nation. It should guide our actions, inform our decisions, and be at the heart of our politics. A strong America is a Christian America.

This celebration, the cross flying high over Budapest, is significant in a secular, modern world as it shows that Hungary is proud of its Christian heritage and is not afraid to show it. Under the leadership of President Orbán, Hungary is rightly celebrating and acknowledging this reality. Will we do so again, one day, in America?

As Jerry Falwell Sr. once said,

“If we are going to save America and evangelize the world, we cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to Christian truth.”

This begins, of course, by embracing the cross — and flying it high over both our hearts and the halls of our government.

America must, like Hungary, be a nation that follows the religion of the cross, and not the rainbow flag. For it is only in the cross of Christ that salvation — and the principles of a stable society — can be found.

The Church must be involved in public discourse and influence. That’s why we write — so our readers can be equipped to understand and pursue righteous change in the world. For more timely, informative, and faith-based content, subscribe to the Standing for Freedom Center newsletter.

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