Vietnam’s paradox: The more insecure the society, the richer the temples


For many years, public opinion has been extremely upset about the superstitious activities of Ba Vang Pagoda and its abbot Thich Truc Thai Minh. These activities show signs of systematic propaganda of superstition, turning the pagoda into a place to pray for wealth, fortune, peace, etc. with the purpose of making money for the pagoda.

The Government Committee for Religious Affairs and the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh province have concluded that Venerable Thich Truc Thai Minh- abbot of Ba Vang Pagoda – violated the Law on Belief and Religion and showed signs of superstition.

Thanh Nien newspaper reported on February 11, “Ha Long (Quang Ninh): Still jostling to buy horoscopes, registering to pray.” The news said that thousands of people still flock to Long Tien pagoda (Ha Long city, Quang Ninh) to worship and buy horoscopes that are publicly sold. After that, they will register to pray to escape bad luck at a price of VND200,000/household.

According to Thanh Nien newspaper, these are some unsightly and offensive things that happened at Long Tien Pagoda. A horoscope is photocopied on A4 paper and sold for VND3,000. According to public opinion, it is a spiritual way of doing business, bringing in a significant amount of revenue. Just take VND200,000/person and multiply it by thousands of people per day to know what the sum of money is? And where does this money go, and whose pocket does it go into?

Notably, previously, on January 31, state media reported that Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh requested that superstitions and unjust offerings not occur during Tet. Accordingly, PM Chinh signed an official telegram, requesting the heads of provinces and cities not to allow superstitious activities with aim of profiteering at faith and religious establishments during the Lunar New Year of Giap Thin and the 2024 Spring Festival.

This shows that the PM’s orders are ignored by his subordinates.

Previously, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha also required pagodas, when organizing peace rituals, to ensure solemnity, frugality, and avoid superstition. In particular, elements that take the form of spiritual services must be avoided.

The story of Ba Vang Pagoda and monk Thich Truc Thai Minh is the clearest evidence of superstitious activities. Public opinion says that Ba Vang Pagoda is not bad, but monk Thich Truc Thai Minh, the head of the pagoda, is a bad person, because he intentionally turned the pagoda into a religious business to make a profit.

Regarding the previous activity of “appealing to the dead and worshiping unjust bondholders,” in 2019, thanks to this trick, Ba Vang Pagoda and monk Thich Truc Thai Minh earned hundreds of billions of dong each year. After that, monk Thich Truc Thai Minh was disciplined, suspended from all positions in the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, and had to repent.

At the end of 2023, Ba Vang Pagoda again organized a procession, display and worship of the “Buddha’s hair relic” and attracted tens of thousands of Buddhists. Public opinion estimates that, in this case, Ba Vang Pagoda collected tens of billions of dong in just one day.

There are opinions in Vietnamese society that believe that there is a policy of using the system of state-supported temples to propagate superstition, intentionally letting people misunderstand Buddhism. It is also a thorough and strategic policy of the Party on issues of religion and belief.

Similarly, state media has repeatedly reported on the situation that, for many years, “praying to avoid bad lucks ” ceremonies at pagodas have “always been over capacity.” Accordingly, one night, thousands of people sat for a long distance in front of the temple to perform this ritual.

Notably, Phuc Khanh Pagoda is headed by monk Thich Thanh Quyet, and monk Quyet is currently a member of the 15th National Assembly – representing Quang Ninh province.

Sociological experts have found that, as a rule, the more insecure a society is, the more superstitious it will be. In Vietnam today, people go to temples to pray and worship, not necessarily because of belief, but many people just want to pray for peace for themselves.

Once society is not safe, for many different reasons, life is difficult and uncertain, forcing people to turn on supertition to cling to something, to have faith in life and the future./.


Tra My –

Kasse animation 7.8.2023