Steve Turley, a religious-right author and podcaster who spoke at last year’s World Congress of Families global summit, cheered Hungary’s authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a “Turley Talks” video posted on YouTube April 17. Orbán, who hosted the WCF’s summit in 2017, is adored by U.S. religious-right leaders in spite of—or rather because of—his autocratic leadership, his aggressive Christian nationalism, and his socially conservative policies on the family.
Orbán’s moves to take control of the judiciary and stifle critics in media and civil society have earned him the unfriendly nickname of Viktator to his critics in the European Union. He recently consolidated his power even further when Hungary’s parliament gave him the authority to rule by decree during the coronavirus crisis.
To Turley, who views Orbán as a champion of Christian civilization, Orbán’s moves are to be celebrated, not criticized. In his recent podcast, Turley dismissed complaints from some Orbán critics that the parliament had effectively been suspended. Noting that Orbán’s Fidez party has a super-majority in the parliament, Turley asked, “So why on Earth would the Prime Minister suspend a parliament where his own political party has over two thirds of the seats? They own the parliament for heaven’s sakes.”
Without any apparent sense of irony, Turley said in the very next sentences that the parliament that the ruling party “owns” can somehow be counted on to check Orbán’s use of his new powers: “Moreover, the Hungarian parliament has the right to suspend these temporary powers that they’ve given to the Prime Minister anytime they see fit. So there are clear checks and balances still in place.”
Turley’s use of the phrase “checks and balances” is particularly remarkable, since Orbán has notoriously mocked the very idea of checks and balances. “‘Checks and balances’ is a U.S. invention that for some reason of intellectual mediocrity Europe decided to adopt and use in European politics,” Orbán declared in 2014.
But even more remarkable is Turley’s glee at Orbán’s authoritarianism. He gushes over Orbán “crushing left-wing liberalism in Hungary.”
“First and foremost, Orbán has threatened to imprison any so-called journalist guilty of spreading fake news,” Turley said. Shouldn’t lovers of freedom find the jailing of journalists at least a bit problematic?
Not Turley, whose explanation seems to suggest he’d be quite happy if U.S. President Donald Trump asserted the same kind of power:
Now what [Orbán] seems to be doing here is responding to the ineptitude of the legal system to hold left-wing activists disguised as journalists accountable for their blatant anti-conservative cultural Marxist bias, which as we’ve seen in the United States has just gone into hyperdrive since the coronavirus pandemic. Just think of the absurd antics of CNN’s Jim Acosta and his comrades in the media, who’ve turned out to be more, far more akin to hecklers than reporters during the coronavirus task force press briefings. Orbán is even—he’s not even remotely tolerating any such nonsense. Hungary is in effect declaring itself a fake-news-free nation.
Turley also celebrates that “Orbán’s nationalist populist government is actually indeed in the process of taking over the arts and fumigating any trace of Cultural Marxism from them.” Yes, “fumigating.” Orbán has used anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic tropes in his culture war efforts and his use of public memorials to enshrine his version of revisionist history.
Here’s more from Turley:
In fact, Orbán sees the revitalization of the arts as central to a revitalized Christian Hungary. An interesting side note here is that Hungary’s government spends more on cultural—on culture and the arts than almost any other nation in Europe in terms of its gross domestic product. Hungary spends about 3.5 percent of its GDP on the arts; most European nations about 1 percent. So the Orbán government is taking the role of recovering Hungary’s culture very, very seriously, and has announced that they’re setting up a National Cultural Council headed by a government minister, and with the task of setting priorities and directions to be followed in Hungarian culture with the revitalization of Christian culture. And the important point here is that the minister would have a role in hiring and firing, particularly theater directors at institutions that receive state funds.
And the third way Orbán is “crushing left-wing liberalism,” according to Turley, is his “ban on transgenderism”:
Orbán has approved of legislation that would force transgender people to have to affirm the same gender as designated on their birth certificates, as well as a complete and total ban on so-called gender reassignment therapy and surgery altogether in Hungary.
Orbán’s “pro-family” policies—celebrated recently by Trump administration officials—have resulted in a rise in marriage and birth rates, Turley said, adding, “So, everywhere you look in Hungary, it really does appear as if secular leftist liberalism is being destroyed, crushed under the enormous weight of a renewed conservative civilization. God bless Viktor Orbán.”
Not surprisingly, Turley is also a fan of Donald Trump. In a 2017 podcast, he said that Trump is playing a “redemptive” role in protecting the Christian church and is also “an indispensable part” of a “trajectory” that will bring the U.S. a “morally upstanding evangelical” as president “in the form of Mike Pence.”
In his book “The Return of Christendom: Demography, Politics, and the Coming Christian Majority,” Turley argued that because religious conservatives have so many more children than secularists, the world is seeing “nothing less than a conservative Christian resurgence in our demographics and politics that promises not suicide but rather the salvation of the West.” He told the World Congress of Families audience that America’s future will be “evangelical, Mormon, and Amish.” Last year, in a podcast titled “WHITES Projected to Become Dominant SUPERMAJORITY in U.S.,” Turley said that multiculturalism is “slowly and surely dissipating” and it will be replaced by “the restoration of a distinctively American culture, custom, and tradition that will continue to define our nation for generations to come.”