The leading role monks played in the September protests against Myanmar’s military rulers has put the spotlight on the politically active side of Buddhism.
Next door in Thailand, this activism takes a quite different form. Buddhist groups there tried in vain earlier this year to have Buddhism declared the country’s official religion in its new post-coup constitution.
In April, they converged on parliament in Bangkok — some riding into the city on elephants — to highlight their demand.
Even though 95 percent of Thais are Buddhists, the drafting assembly rejected the idea.
In an unusual step, Queen Sirikit said in a speech marking her 75th birthday in August that religion should be separate from politics. Given the deep respect Thais have for their monarchy, that put an end to the campaign.