Investigation requested into monks’ light-hearted online preaching

Thailand’s constitution-protection body on Monday requested an investigation into a duo of monks whose online videos of Buddhist teachings have gone viral thanks to their light-hearted tone.

The videos posted by Phra Maha Sompong Talaputto and Phra Maha Paiwan Warawunno on Facebook livestream have “tainted the religion,” said Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution.

Srisuwan has filed a complaint to the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC), a governing body of Thai Buddhist clergy, to consider punishing and potentially defrocking the pair.

Some of the monks’ posts have attracted more than 200,000 views.

No one could appreciate their humorous teachings, said Srisuwan, adding that the livestreams are a tool for exploitation. The posts feature an appeal for donations.

Srisuwan urged the SCC to “forbid any monks from behaving in this manner and penalize them.”

In a phone call debate between the monk duo and Srisuwan televised on Channel 3,  Phra Maha Paiwan said “allow some humour into your life, and do not treat laughter as deadly,” saying many Thais are facing a mental breakdown due to stress amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phra Maha Sompong is a well-known preacher who is also noted for his satirical political overtones. The Sangha Supreme Council judged him guilty of expressing political opinions earlier in May.

Phra Maha Paiwan is recognized as a liberal monk who has criticized the SSC for attempting to monopolize religious teachings in Thailand and to repress the right of individuals to interpret by themselves.

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