Religious bodies should not be allowed to discriminate
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:31
Under anti-discrimination law in Australia it is illegal to discriminate on grounds such as gender, sexuality, or belief. However, most states specifically exempt religious organizations from such anti-discrimination laws. For example, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Equal Rights Commission website states:
Religious institutions controlled or run by a body established for religious purposes (e.g. a catholic seminary, Jewish rabbinical school, or Buddhist monastery) may discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic when employing people, provided that discrimination is necessary to conform with religious beliefs or sensitivities. This covers schools run by religious bodies.
The Australian Sangha Association (ASA) and the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC) is strongly opposed to such religious exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation in Australia. While the rest of Australian society is expected to follow basic principles of fairness and equity, religious organizations may continue to enforce archaic, unjust forms of discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, or belief.
Such exemptions are opposed to Buddhist principles, as they cause harm to those who are discriminated against, those who discriminate, and the moral fabric of Australian society. Religious organizations are perpetuating divisions and suspicion, when they should be leading the way in creating a fairer, more loving and compassionate community.
The current exemptions, which grant free licence to religious organizations to discriminate, were created by Australia’s strong religious right lobby. It is curious that the Victorian website quoted above gives the example of a Buddhist monastery as an organization that may discriminate, when the Buddhist community has never supported such discrimination.
The ASA and FABC calls for all general exemptions for religious bodies to be repealed. Religious organizations, like anyone else, should be able to request permission to discriminate in certain circumstances, but only when they can prove that such discrimination is necessary or beneficial.
Vandalism and arson of Buddhist temples in Korea
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 12:27
by Emi hayakawa, BTN, Nov 6, 2012
Seoul, South Korea -- Vandalism and arson of Buddhist temples and treasures, and important cultural properties relating to Buddhism by the Korean Christian and Protestant communities continue. Although many legislative laws have changed to protect cultural properties and national treasure after the tragic arson of the Namdaemun gate, national treasure No.1, vandalism to Buddhist temples and Buddhist treasures continue in Korea.
On October 4th, 2012, an arson tried to burn down the Gakhwangjeon Hall of Hwaomsa Temple in Gurye County, Korea. Fortunately, the fire only made a small damage to the gate of the hall due to quick actions of the monks and the fire prevention restoration made in 2008. On the CCTV, the video captured a man pouring a flammable substance across the hall, and according to witnesses they smelt a very arsenic substance coming from the hall before the man threw in a match to burn down the Gakhwangjeon Hall.
Sapling of World's Oldest Tree planted in WA Nuns Monastery
Saturday, 01 December 2012 10:03
On Sunday 25th November 2012 a sapling of the oldest recorded tree in history from Sri Lanka was planted at the Dhammasara nun's monastery in Gidgeganup. This tree is called the Sri Maha Bodhi tree and was planted in 288 BC during the reign of India's King Asoka. This branch of the Bodhi tree was sent south to Sri Lanka as part of the King's effort to spread the Buddha Dhamma far and wide for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The Buddha gained full awakening approximately 2,500 years ago under the original Bodhi tree in India. After gaining the full awakening experience the Buddha remained under the tree for seven weeks to contemplate the finer points of reality (Dhammas).
It is said the Buddha gestured his appreciation to the Bodhi tree, and indeed to all of nature, by touching the earth below his feet as witness to his great achievement. The Bodhi tree (which is similar to the banyan tree of the ficus family) has since that time been respected by Buddhists around the world. The Bodhi tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which is a popular Buddhist symbol.
The sapling that was planted at Dhammasara was a gift from the oldest Buddhist monastery in Sri Lanka which was formed in the same year 288 BC. And now in 2012 a sapling from that tree has been sent further south all the way to Australia as a special gift from the people of Sri Lanka to Australians.
A gathering of senior Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka and Australia officiated the planting of the Bodhi tree. This was great significance also because it showed the support by the Sri Lankan Buddhist community of the re-establishment the order of Theravadan nuns in WA in 2008. (The Buddha is the first religious teacher in history to have established a female clergy, but the order of Theravadan branch of nuns died off some centuries after Buddhism died out in India.).