Aust. government grants show religious bias

"The Hindu Council of Australia told the ANAO that “departments have consistently failed to give grants to the Indian, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist communities”.

The advanced state of Buddhism’s influence on Christianity:



Due to entrenched bias, the outsized funding and outreach of Christians.

But also due to the fact that Buddhists have practically zero funding and institutional capacity to influence government policy.

Fun story! Years ago i was at a conference for Religions for Peace in Vienna. I ended up chatting with a woman from, and I’m embarrassed to say this, a country in Africa that I forget. She was representing the Bahai’i community, which was a small minority in a small, poor country. And she was employed full time for religious outreach by the Bahai’i community. I told her, we have a vastly greater Buddhist community in Australia, and a much wealthier country, yet we have not a single person paid to do this work, or really, anything similar.

We can, and should, complain, but until we get our act together nothing will change.


The place to look for funds like that would be Thai business people, the idea of spreading the culture appeals to them. Bodhi Tree monastery secured funds from the Vietnamese community.

People like to have a stakeholding in a definite project.

There’s no shortage of Buddhists who would like to support Buddhism. So far, however, there’s been no significant mobilization of such efforts in the creation of an effective, pan-Buddhist organization. The Buddhist Councils do the best they can, but they have struggled for decades with little support from traditional Buddhist communities.

I think you’re right, in that people like to contribute to something definite. “Better institutional representation of Buddhist perspectives in legislative consultation” is not as inspiring as “build a stupa”. But on the day your child is told they can’t attend a school because they have a disability, or that they can’t get medical services because they are trans, or that they can’t get a job because they are Buddhist, a stupa, lovely as it may be, is not going to be much help.

I don’t know what the solution is, except to encourage support of the Buddhist Councils within our own communities.

Another fun fact! About a decade ago, the FABC (Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils) had funds of about $20,000. The counterpart Islamic organization—representing a community of about the same size—had $20 million. That’s a thousand times more money per person.

Also a fun fact: almost the entirety of that $20,000 was contributed directly by Ajahn Brahm from funds he was offered for attending a conference in Japan, not from Australian Buddhists.

If we want the government to respond effectively to Buddhist needs, we have to represent those needs effectively.


To be a Buddhist and to be involved in some lay activities such as politics, or in my case, chaplaincy, is to really see how the Abrahamic religions control and essentially dominate these fields. Some of the major religions have PACs, which provide both funding and advocacy functions. And with respect to the issue of funding, at least in the US I am familiar with the massive amounts of money raised by Christian churches through the tithing requirements, and for some. the belief that one can get a deified return on one’s donation 10x, by virtue of tithing. I actually once had a client with a Ph.D. from MIT that gave 10 percent of his income to a US evangelical megachurch, and told me that he believed that his business success came from his tithing activities, ie: that God was blessing him because he gave so much money to his church. I did a quick google and found that in Islam there is “in most Muslim-majority countries, zakat contributions are voluntary, while in Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen, zakat is mandated and collected by the state (as of 2015)” wherein 2.5 percent of income/wealth is given over. A Zakat Foundation in the US has donations of over $10M in a recent year, just from Muslims giving their Zakat to one organization.

In the last election cycle, I thought to form a Buddhist PAC, just so that there was one. Within chaplaincy, there is a daily struggle to intervene in social media posts to remind the majority of practicing chaplains and large chaplain organizations that not all of chaplaincy’s planets revolve around an Abrahamic sun. It’s a work in progress.

So, it seems to me that within Buddhism, we don’t have a mandate that requires us to turn over our wealth to a large organization. That is good, of course, but puts us at a fundraising disadvantage. We don’t preach a prosperity gospel, and that’s good too, for to do so would make us rotten to the core. It may be that if we want to be stakeholders within governmental funding systems (never mind rotters like Peter Dutton…plenty of these types, too, in the US) we need to get some trusted Buddhists to organize and start a PAC, and to maybe take note of what some of the Abrahamic groups are doing in terms of outreach and communication, and see if the Buddhist community can be better represented at the grantgiving and political advocacy level.


Best of luck with your chaplaincy work! Ven Akaliko is chaplain at our local University (Western Sydney) and it’s pretty much the same.

The thing is, Buddhists are extremely generous. No, there is no tithing requirement, but traditionally, allocating 10% or more of income for Buddhism would not be at all unusual.


Well that’s a bad rate compared to MN142. The lowest return even mentioned is 100x on gifts to animals. Maybe you should show this to your prosperity gospel friends, and then they can start giving their pocket change to squirrels and alleycats for higher returns!

On a more serious note, I think the problem is this: Buddhists in the US tend to be low income. My local Wat is part of the Khmer refugee community. The physical structure has been slowly under construction for over a decade, and before the site was acquired, the monks lived in a relatively run-down area. I think members of the community give quite generously - but they don’t have much.

Meanwhile, I know a local institution is charging $495 for an introductory meditation course. There’s people with money willing to part with that money and receive teachings - they just largely don’t identify as Buddhist or want to support the sassana.


Alleycats are big gamblers, and so I never recommend giving money to them. :slight_smile:

I was up early and doing some Googling, and again came across this which I have now joined and also link with Bhante Akaliko in case he might be interested to read of the work of this group. @Akaliko

“Buddhists have been doing chaplaincy work for almost 2,500 years.”

Conducted by a collaborative research team representing Harvard Divinity School, Brandeis University, University of the West, and the Institute of Buddhist Studies, among others, this survey reached over 400 Buddhist chaplains working across the fields of health care, education, prisons, the military, and many other sectors.

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Govt. to increase awareness:

“The Department will work with the Grants Hub to increase awareness of grant opportunities to relevant groups to ensure that organisations from a diverse range of cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds are aware of grant opportunities,” it said."


Buddhist temple with security issue successful access to grant:


Good, that’s a step in the right direction. The problem still remains though: governments respond to organized citizens. We have to meet them half-way, they can’t represent us.


I enjoyed time spent as a board member of the Buddhist Council of NSW a decade or so ago and met with several mayors of local government in Sydney’s western suburbs as part of an awareness program, I suppose it could be described. Since that time I have given thought to the almost total lack of any presence of Buddhist attitudes or perspectives about issues under discussion on media outlets, such as the ABC’s The Drum, for instance. On any occasion on that program you may hear authoritative opinion from men, and very often (in fact, most often) women from the broad Muslim community throughout Australia: highly articulate; extraordinarily well informed; and profoundly compassionate, on a wide range of political, moral and social issues. This exposure for the Muslim community is welcome, as at least some of the misconception of Islam that might pervade the wider community can hopefully be allayed. While much of the blame for Buddhism’s lack of exposure on these outlets can be placed at the feet of media (and having worked in media, I know how narrow its focus can be) I am trying to understand the almost total lack of any Buddhist presence. I’m familiar with a common response; namely, which of the traditions should be the one to represent a Buddhist perspective: Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana? Certainly, senior Buddhist Council members could presumably negotiate this minefield in the absence of a viable FABC, but it is a deficiency that must be addressed as I suspect the wider Buddhist community in Australia is in danger of fading from an exciting marketplace of religious and philosophical engagement.


In the wake of covid ABC Classic have begun a therapeutic campaign as guardians of public morale, pushing aspects of western psychology some of which are opposed to the higher pursuit (nibbana) of Buddhist practice, such as rampant promotion of self . They have a female psychologist as one presenter. For the masses ideas contingent on mundane right view are appropriate and some of the ideas are good, but there should be some awareness of broader Buddhist views, particularly as in other quarters Theravada is having a transformative influence on psychology through Analayo’s academic pursuits in mindfulness. Some of the listeners mention mindfulness which is inevitable, but the presenters are unwilling to go that far.