As a layperson and an Ameircan, I’m somewhat confused and was wondering if those more knowledgeable could help explain. In some parts of explaining my confusion, I may use examples that are more extreme than the central topic of this thread. I want to be clear up front that I am not trying to compare anything people are actually doing to these more extreme situations, just trying to use corner cases to illuminate the whole boundaries.
First, I’d like to understand how far these antidiscrimination laws in other countries reach. In the US freedom of association and freedom of religion are enshrined much more highly in our constitution. Generally, it is only private secular corporations (for-profit or not) with more than 15 employees who are subject to these laws (additionally government entities are held to higher standards). Even a very large formal club is free to discriminate on the basis of gender, like the Daughters of the American Revolution, whose membership is restricted to women (I don’t know their stance on Trans identity), and further restricted on the basis of lineage (one ancestor who contributed to independence). It is also 100% legal for, for example, a small restaurant with 10 employees to only hire people from the proprietor’s family or home country. Finally, the government just has nothing to say about groups that do not engage with either the formal legal system, commercial enterprise, or certain forms of criminal conspiracy. So, for example, there could be a 20-member exclusively straight cis white male Anglican group who just meet up to have little parties together, and it wouldn’t just be legal, but would basically be invisible to the government. How many of those things would be illegal in Belgium or Australia?
The second thing I’d like to understand is how the Vinaya is supposed to interact with local laws. First off, aside from the rules that directly relate to local law (like the rule against a monk helping to smuggle goods through a customs checkpoint to assist a layperson to avoid paying taxes), are there any direct statements from the Buddha on the topic of how Vinaya and law are meant to interact?
Do most ordained sangha communities actually have a legal existence, with ordination entailing formal membership? My understanding had been that it was more nuanced, particularly in the west, with the legally incorporated entity being a fundamentally lay organization, pooling lay resources together to be used at lay discretion, interacting with the monastic community only in that the organization gives things to them and listens to them (perhaps appointing either an Abbot or someone chosen by an Abbot to an office like “Spiritual Director”, but that being a sort of “coincidence” without the organization determining who the abbot is). I did not think that there was anything visible to the government that was an incorporated entity with exclusively ordained membership rolls that grow every time someone was ordained and shrink every time someone is defrocked. Thus it was my understanding that in western countries governments had no visibility into or stance on who was or was not ordained.
Regarding kutis it was my understanding that most of the Vinaya restrictions only applied to kutis without a sponsor and the work around was that most monastics live in sponsored housing. Is this incorrect?
Further, I’m curious how this is thought to interact with rules of more moral consequence. One thing I know is somewhat regular, but have never thought about from this angle, is exterminations to comply with health codes. I know that these happen from time to time, and always sort of figured that it was viewed similarly to, say, a monastic trainee killing a mosquito that was biting him, but scaled up. Is it instead the general view that health codes supersede the 61st confession rule?
Sincere thanks to anyone who can clarify an illuminate.