Where’s the forgiveness?

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Where’s the forgiveness?

Even though President Lee Myung-bak has expressed regret over alleged discrimination against Buddhism and banned favoritism of certain religious beliefs, the Buddhist community still refuses to be mollified.

A Buddhist committee which was formed to end religious discrimination said on Tuesday that the president appeared more sincere than before. But it also said it would hold a rally as planned to condemn the government.

We hope that the Buddhist community will stop taking such a combative stance against the government.

The dispute arose because certain government measures and actions by civil servants were misinterpreted as favoring a certain religion while discriminating against another.

But in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Lee expressed deep regret over the alleged discriminatory acts and offensive remarks. The Cabinet approved a presidential decree calling for a revision of the code of conduct for civil servants, adding a clause that prohibits religious discrimination by civil servants. Civil workers who break this clause will be subject to disciplinary action.

As the president has officially delivered regrets and taken measures to prevent any reoccurrence, the problem should be considered resolved.

It remains to be seen whether the government keeps its promise. If civil servants who break the rule are not punished, the Buddhist community has every right to protest again.

But the Buddhist community keeps making demands: firing the head of the National Police agency; banning civil workers from engaging in religious discrimination; and drawing up measures to unify the nation.

The second demand will be met as both the ruling and opposition parties work to establish a law to prohibit religious discrimination, following the Cabinet meeting.

The third demand would imply that the organizers of candlelight vigils will no longer be subject to the law. This is an impossible demand.

This leaves the first demand. It was clearly wrong that policemen searched the car carrying the head monk of Jogye Temple, but it is not a good enough reason to fire the chief of the National Police Agency.

Buddha said that hatred is like fire that burns the person who harbors it. Buddhists work to rescue the masses and pursue individual enlightenment based on compassion. We hope that the Buddhist community will show forgiveness and unification, instead of resentment and confrontation.
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