Professional managers to run Buddhist temples
By Kwon Mee-yoo
The Jogye Order will hand over the business of running temples to independent companies instead of entrusting it to monks, and be more transparent about how revenue from Buddhist donations is spent.
These and other measures were announced by the largest Buddhist sect, Thursday, following a public outcry over a scandal involving gambling monks in May.
"We have grown bigger fast with the rapid development of our society,” said Ven. Jaseung, president of the Jogye Order.
Observing that the nonprofessional, unsystematic management of the Buddhist order contributed to trouble and conflict, the monk said, "Recent gambling scandals are closely related to such old-fashioned operating practices.”
The gambling scandal broke in early May when a former monk disclosed a video clip of monks gambling with hundreds of millions of won at a hotel room near Baekyang Temple in Jangseong, South Jeolla Province.
Since then, Jaseung has increasingly been under pressure to resign. The Jogye Order is the largest Buddhist sect here with more than 2,500 temples and 13,860 monks. Factions of monks clashed violently in 1994 and 1998 during a power struggle. The prosecution is currently looking into the gambling case.
Speaking on Thursday, Jaseung said that he will devote the rest of his tenure ― about a year and half left ― to seeing the reforms through.
"This is the time to make fundamental reforms," Jaseung said.
The order recently organized a reform committee and established ideals for renewal ― "Monks should concentrate on asceticism and propagation, while believers should strive to serve the community through supporting Buddhism and practicing virtuous work."
Management specialists will take charge of the financial operation of the temples and publish their financial standings. For every transaction regarding the order, credit cards can be used and receipts will be issued to map the flow of funds.
The Jogye Order said it will modify its election system to prevent possible fraud. The sect will also tighten disciplinary action against those who tarnish the reputation of Buddhism.