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Korean Buddhists intensify protests

Government will not be allowed to participate in religious activities

Korean Buddhists intensify protests
Buddhist monks celebrating the New Year on Jan. 5, without government officials
Stephen Hong, Seoul

January 6, 2011

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Buddhists in Korea have stepped up their ongoing protest against the allegedly religiously-biased government. The Buddhist Jogye Order, the country’s largest Buddhist denomination, on Jan. 4 sent a message to 3,000 temples in the country saying that for all Buddhist events, “participation by the government and ruling party must be flatly denied.” They also advised other politicians to refrain from participating in their events. This was in retaliation to the government’s indifference to their protest against budget cuts for their temple stay programs last December. The first show of their latest stance occurred yesterday when the Jogye order did not allow the government and ruling party to participate in their New Year celebration. Prior to the message, the country’s largest Buddhist denomination had already announced “they will not allow the government and ruling party to visit any Buddhist temples in the country.” Meanwhile, the Jogye order has refused to accept the budget cut figures and said they would not ask for the government’s financial support. They are planning to hold a 1,080-deep-bow ceremony protest to oppose the Protestant President’s religious bias. Local Buddhist groups have been protesting against the government’s alleged preference for Protestantism and bias against Buddhism since President Lee Myung-bak, a Methodist, assumed office in 2008. Related report Budget cuts rile South Korean Buddhists KO12726.1635
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