Several groups are currently pushing for Buddhism to become state religion in Thailand, writes Nanchanok Wongsamuth in Bangkok Post (Oct. 25). A previous attempt had failed during military rule in 2007; the constitution adopted at that time only required the State to patronize and protect Buddhism. Members of a committee to promote Buddhism as state religion complain that lack of interest by the government allegedly resulted “in a decline in the religion.” Supporters of the move seem not merely to follow a political agenda, but a reformist one as well. For instance, they would like the State to help purify Buddhism from external accretions (e.g. Hindu statues in Buddhist temples) and to prevent the use of religion for commercial purposes.
A petition has been circulated in most provinces of Thailand and is expected by its promoters to attract much more than the 10,000 signatures required for proposing a draft bill. Not all Buddhists are pleased, however. Interviewed by Bangkok Post, a Buddhist scholar warned that an increase in Buddhism’s role would turn Thailand into a semi-religious State and lead to infringements upon freedoms and rights. Groups striving to ensure Buddhist supremacy as well as to advocate other Buddhist causes—sometimes clashing with other religious groups—have become increasingly active in recent decades in several Buddhist-majority countries, such as Burma or Sri Lanka.
(Bankok Post, http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/741924/push-to-make-buddhism-state-religion)