Buddhist Monks Could Be Banned From Social Networking Site

    March 4, 2008

The Thai government is asking its Information, Communications and Technology Ministry to find a way to prevent Buddhist monks from inappropriately using social networking sites to flirt with women.

The governments concern stems from an arrest of a monk who used a social networking site to convince a woman to visit his temple and then raped her.  "I call on Hi5 users to tell the monks to leave the site if they are found using it," junior minister Jakrapob Penkair told reporters after a Buddhist monitoring group said some monks were acting inappropriately on the site.

Thai media reported on Tuesday that a 23-year-old monk was caught raping a teenager he lured to his room via the Web site. "I am upset by this," Jakrapob said. "Any sort of misdeed caused by monks results in the deterioration of Buddhism."

Jakrapob said the government had to weigh the pros and cons of blocking the Web site from access by Buddhist monks and noted that the site was useful for online visitors to search for information and job opportunities.

Phrathepwisuthikawi, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and Planning of Mahamakut Buddhist University said that monks should not be banned from the Web site if they are using it for religious purposes.

"If monks use the website to propagate Buddhist teaching, it’s not wrong," he explained. "It must be considered case by case."