Buddhists call upon World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) to lobby for Recognition of Buddhism as an official religion in non – Buddhist countries
Posted on September 13th, 2016

by  Senaka Weeraratna

The German Dharmaduta Society, Regional Centre of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) based in Sri Lanka has submitted a Resolution to be tabled at the forthcoming 

28th General Conference of the WFB to be held in Seoul, South Korea from Sept. 26 -30, 2016, calling on WFB to join hands with Governments of pre-dominantly Buddhist countries and well – wishers world wide to engage actively in lobbying the international community to confer recognition to Buddhism as an official religion in non – Buddhist countries.

Outside Asia only two countries recognise Buddhism as an Official Religion, namely Russia and Austria, despite Buddhism being recognized as a global religion by the United Nations (UN) and a special day being allocated in the UN Calendar for celebration of Vesak ( Buddha’s birthday).

The non – recognition of Buddhism as an Official religion in Europe has led to discriminatory treatment  such as categorizing Buddhists as being members of ‘sects’ and ‘cults’ among other things. Official Recognition would allow Buddhists certain rights such as access to the media, financial support, legal standing, and recognition equal to those of Christian Churches, and right to teach in a school. It would allow them the legal right to form voluntary societies as exclusive Buddhist Societies with membership restricted only to Buddhists.

The absence of State recognition to Buddhism in almost all European countries bar Russia and Austria functions as an impediment to the proper practice and development of Buddhism in Europe.

There are no public holidays for Buddhism or any other non – Christian religion in the Public Holiday calendar of European nations i.e. with a Christian heritage.

Even UK denies Official Recognition to Buddhism. It does not allow the construction of new Buddhist Temples. But allows Buddhists to occupy existing Buildings and use them for their religious functions. This is also true of several other West European countries.

However, despite restrictive laws, there is growing public acceptance and accommodation of Buddhism in several European countries including UK, France and Germany.

Senaka Weeraratna

The full text of the Resolution is appended below

2.   The Title of the Resolution

Recognition of Buddhism as an official religion in non – Buddhist countries

3.   The Conceptual Frame-Work of the Resolution ……

The World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) is mandated in its Constitution to propagate the sublime doctrine of the Buddha (Article 3.3). A reasonable construction of this mandate empowers the WFB to take all possible lawful steps to facilitate the spread of the Buddha Dhamma in both Buddhist and non – Buddhist communities and countries world –wide.

It is estimated that there are now altogether between 1 and 4 Million Buddhists in Europe, the majority being in Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. Despite a commitment to ‘multi – culturalism’ and ‘religious pluralism’ in Europe, the official recognition of Buddhism is confined only to two States i.e. Russia and Austria.

This discriminatory treatment meted out to Buddhism in Europe and other parts of the world despite Buddhism being recognized as a global religion by the United Nations (UN) and a special day being allocated in the UN Calendar for celebration of Vesak ( Buddha’s birthday), must be reversed by active lobbying on the part of Governments of pre-dominantly Buddhist countries,  premier International Buddhist organizations such as the WFB  and well wishers.

Official State recognition to Buddhism in Europe would enable Buddhists to secure a place and standing in each European country and also avoid being subject to derogatory treatment such as categorizing Buddhists as being members of ‘sects’ and ‘cults’ among other things. It would also allow Buddhists certain rights such as access to the media, financial support, legal standing, and recognition equal to those of Christian Churches, and right to teach in a school. It would allow them the legal right to form voluntary societies as exclusive Buddhist Societies with membership restricted only to Buddhists.

The absence of State recognition to Buddhism in almost all European countries bar Russia and Austria functions as an impediment to the proper practice and development of Buddhism in Europe.

There are no public holidays for Buddhism or any other non – Christian religion in the Public Holiday calendar of European nations i.e. with a Christian heritage.

Even UK denies Official Recognition to Buddhism. It does not allow the construction of new Buddhist Temples. But allows Buddhists to occupy existing Buildings and use them for their religious functions. This is also true of several other West European countries.

However, despite restrictive laws, there is growing public acceptance and accommodation of Buddhism in several European countries including UK, France and Germany.

PS ;Please also visit the following web link for more details

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1nsBye4jSsgXXmcYtyfpv_6ZmGWP1BSRCG_KLNUjBJ0I/edit#slide=id.p4

Official Recognition of Buddhism in Europe – Problems and Perspectives

by Senaka Weeraratna

International Buddhist Conference – 2012

Anuradhapura

2 Responses to “Buddhists call upon World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) to lobby for Recognition of Buddhism as an official religion in non – Buddhist countries”

  1. charithsls Says:

    It is shocking to learn the Europe has not recognized Buddhism as an official religion. This is a very timely move & hope will bear fruition soon. Should use all the diplomatic channels available & Sri Lanka taking a lead in this regard is very commendable.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Europe is too busy absorbing mussies from the middle east, afganisthan, pakisthan, iraq, iran, etc. etc. as if
    they don’t have enough already. Breeding machines in uk, germany, france, etc. etc. increasing numbers like
    there is no tomorrow. Still these stupid Europeans taking more and more mussies.

    Mussies don’t want to go or
    live in mussie turkey. They want to get into European countries while loathing them. Brainless angela merkel opened the door to mussie invasion. Now europe is finished. What chance for Buddhism in mussie-loving Europe? Buddhism
    is/has been easy meet. That’s why it is being destroyed in Sri Lanka and worldwide with the blessing of some Buddhists as well.

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