Czech Community of Buddhists re-applies for registration as church

The Community of Buddhism in the Czech Republic, comprised mainly of local Vietnamese, has applied for official registration as a church after being twice denied

Prague, Feb 15 (CTK) – The Community of Buddhism in the Czech Republic, comprised mainly of local Vietnamese, has applied for official registration as a church once again, after the Culture Ministry turned its two applications down in the past.

Nevertheless, the ministry has registered another Buddhist community under the name Theravada Buddhism, which has become the second Buddhist group among the country’s 41 registered churches.

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The first one is the Diamond Way Buddhism registered in 2007. This line of Buddhism is often followed by Czech Buddhists, while most Vietnamese living in Czechia stick to the Mahayana line.

In the 10.6-million Czech Republic, more than 6,100 people claimed their Buddhist religion in the latest census in 2011.

At the same time, more than one million people presented themselves as Catholics, some 20,000 as the Orthodox Church followers and about 1,000 as the followers of Judaism, although the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities says it has about 3,000 members.

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Muslims make up less than 0.1 percent of the country’s population, according to statistics.

There are 41 registered churches and religious communities in the Czech Republic. A total of 21 applications for registration were turned down by the Culture Ministry in the past two decades.

The newly registered churches are not eligible for state subsidies, unlike some “older” churches, whose subsidising by the state, however, has been shrinking every year and will completely stop in 2043 based on the church restitution law that was passed in 2012 and took effect in 2013.

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The Community of Buddhism in the Czech Republic applied for registration on January 29, 2016 for the first time, formed by members of the Community of Vietnamese Buddhism in the Czech Republic, a civic group established in 2004. Local Buddhist communities had arisen around temples, prayer rooms and shrines. There are over ten such sacred sites in the Czech Republic.

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In 2017, the Culture Ministry halted the registration procedure after the applicants failed to submit additional required data.

The preparatory committee of the Community of Buddhism filed another request for registration last year. Once again, the ministry asked the applicant to provide additional data, which the latter failed to do and the ministry halted the procedure again last August.

In November, the ministry started to deal with the committee’s third application.

Czech-Vietnamese Society’s spokesman Marcel Winter has told CTK that the previous shortcomings in the applications were only formal. The definition of the Community’s seat was waited for, among others, he said, expressing his belief that the ministry will register the Community now.

The other community, Theravada Buddhism, has seen its application for registration from 2017 met by the ministry. This community follows up the tradition of the 19th-century Thai forest monks with their life maximally corresponding to Buddha’s teaching.

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