Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Religion Provisions of the Bhutan Constitution

One of my current research projects involves analysis of the religion provisions of various constitutions enacted since the year 2000. From time to time on this blog, I'll post extracts of those provisions arranged according to categories such as "Religious Freedom" (guarantee of individual rights), "Established Religion" (joining religion and government), "Establishment Clause" (separating religion and government), "Ceremonial Deism" (symbolic references to religion that have little or no legal effect), "Equal Protection of Religion" (non-discrimination guarantees), "Preamble", "Religious Education", and "Religious Limitations".

Here are the religion provisions of the 2008 Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan. As you can see, it strongly establishes Buddhism as the state religion in Bhutan, while simultaneously containing a curious statement that it's the responsibility of religious entities to ensure that "religion remains separate from politics".

Bhutan Constitution 2008
BLESSED by the Triple Gem, the protection of our
guardian deities,

Established Religion
Article 2.2 The Chhoe-sid-nyi of Bhutan shall be unified in the person of
the Druk Gyalpo who, as a Buddhist, shall be the upholder of
the Chhoe-sid.

Article 3.1 Buddhism is the spiritual heritage of Bhutan, which promotes
the principles and values of peace, non-violence, compassion
and tolerance.

Article 3.4 The Druk Gyalpo shall, on the recommendation of the Five
Lopons, appoint a learned and respected monk ordained in
accordance with the Druk-lu, with the nine qualities of a
spiritual master and accomplished in ked-dzog, as the Je

Article 3.5 His Holiness the Je Khenpo shall, on the recommendation of
the Dratshang Lhentshog, appoint monks with the nine
qualities of a spiritual master and accomplished in ked-dzog
as the Five Lopons.

Article 3.7 The Zhung Dratshang and Rabdeys shall continue to receive
adequate funds and other facilities from the State.

Article 9.20 The State shall strive to create conditions that will enable the
true and sustainable development of a good and compassionate
society rooted in Buddhist ethos and universal human values.

Establishment Clause
Article 3.3 It shall be the responsibility of religious institutions and
personalities to promote the spiritual heritage of the country
while also ensuring that religion remains separate from politics
in Bhutan. Religious institutions and personalities shall remain
above politics.

Religious Freedom
Article 7.4 A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion. No person shall be compelled to
belong to another faith by means of coercion or inducement.

Equal Protection of Religion
Article 7.15 All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal
and effective protection of the law and shall not be
discriminated against on the grounds of race, sex, language,
religion, politics or other status.

Ceremonial Deism
Article 10.6 At the commencement of each session of Parliament, the Druk
Gyalpo shall be received in a joint sitting of Parliament with
Chibdrel Ceremony. Each session shall be opened with a Zhugdrel-
phunsum tshog-pai ten-drel and each session shall
conclude with the Tashi-mon-lam. [prayers for fulfilment of good wishes & aspirations]

First Schedule (Flag): The lower orange half that extends to the top symbolizes the spiritual
tradition. It also symbolizes the flourishing of the Buddhist teachings
in general and that of the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions in particular.

First Schedule (National Emblem): There
are four other jewels inside the circle where the two vajras intersect.
They symbolize the spiritual and secular traditions of the Kingdom
based on the four spiritual undertakings of Vajrayana Buddhism.

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