Buddhism is officially recognized as a philosophy of life by the Council of ministers on Friday. It is estimated that the community in Belgium has around 150,000 supporters.
The Federal Council of ministers will normally green the bill of minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld) regarding the recognition on Friday. Buddhism is thus the eighth non-denominational philosophy in Belgium, in addition to, among other things, the Catholic, Islamic and liberal philosophy.
” Over the past decades, this community has proven that it can structure itself and make a positive contribution to our society, ” says Van Quickenborne. In our country, some 150,000 people would adhere to Buddhism as a philosophy of life, spread over more than thirty associations and centers.
The application of the Buddhist Union of Belgium (Bub), which unites most of the Buddhist organizations, has been running since 2006. Since then, BUBl has already received an annual subsidy to further structure itself, through the recognition there is now further financial support.
Thus, Buddhist centers will be entitled to a paid moral consultant and to consultants who go to prison or hospital as a chaplain. In addition, the BUB, which is the official interlocutor of the Belgian government, will have a general secretariat with a dozen staff members. The organization would show interest in the Chinese Pavilion in Laeken as a branch.
There are also critical signals from the Buddhist community. Former BUB chairman Edel Maex previously noted that the recognition is “the worst thing that could happen to [Buddhism]” because the internal diversity is now poured into one overarching structure. According to Maex, such funding distracts from commitment and authenticity.