Buddhism’s Bill 2007

A new law is being proposed, by the group that attempted to make the Constitution include Buddhism as a state religion, that ‘protects’ from ‘Buddhist’ offences. There is a hefty fine and up to 25 years in prison for anyone

insulting, offending, imitating and distorting Buddhism and the Lord Buddha

Without seeing the bill in entirity, it seems to me to be one of those silly attmepts that are really about the feeling of recognition, rather than anything that is really needed, something that would actually fix a problem in society.

 The term ‘distorting Buddhism’ is especially troubling, as this opens the door to doctrinal wars that could move into the court room. ‘Offending’ too is a slippery term, and depends on someone taking ‘offense’, which is of course, highly subjective.

A painting was deemed to be offensive to monks in this week’s Nation, and was withdrawn from exhibition, even though it is fairly tame. It is a good ecample of the way things are working quite well, without the need for new laws from parliament.

Part of the proposal includes fines and prison for people who engage in sexual activity with monks … well it is nice to recognise that such an occurance is the fault of the layperson involed too. This could well lessen the temptation to use ‘Honey Traps’ against monks, particularly when you only need a vague photo, not even with any physical contact, to stir up gossip and condenmation. It has happened before that ladies sore from being rejected by monks, or jealous in other ways, have spread untrue accusations.

Punishment for physically assaulting monks, novices and nuns would be three times those stipulated by law – because it is worse to hit a monk than someone else ? Maybe he provoked the attack …

The bill would legitemise the ordination of women and offer state to support to the development of their community – but this again seems ill thought out. It is not the state recognition of women that is really the problem (other than Nuns rights to Visa applications which is an embarassing problem) but the Bhikkhu Sangha (via Sangha Counil) that does not have any jurisdiction over Bhikkhunis. The problem needs to be solved at the Sangha Council level first.

This seems to be a classic case of immature politics, of gunning for a sense of importance and recognition without real cause. There has not been any real identification of problems, and an effort to solve them. Are monks really being assulted ? And would increased fines prevent this? The system, while admittedly a mess constitutionally, actually seems to be working well. Protection against ‘insulting the religion’? Again – is there actually a problem in this regard. It is rather like the attempts to modernise the House of Lords in the UK. It is an antiquated system, but it actually works. If it ain’t bust, don’t fixt it.

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About Cittasamvaro

Auto blogography of an urban monk
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