A new set of laws for religious organizations, recently drafted by the Ministry of the Interior, mandates that temples and churches show financial transparency. The aim was to prevent unscrupulous practices, but some religious groups have taken it differently, questioning if the laws are even constitutional.
Holding up incenses and praying, here is Wanhe Temple in Taichung. The temple was built three hundred years ago, and it is recognized as a national level three ancient monument. Countless prayers went in and out, half of the temple revenue came from selling incenses and joss papers. But where did the money go?
==MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC==
It's the money donated from people, so it must spent on affairs related with people. It should be reasonable, and it's better to have some guidelines to rely on.
Donors are willing to see financial transparency, many large-sized temples had already registered as foundations. In the religious organizations draft, regulation would further require financial report submission to authority.
==VOICE: KAO HSIU-FENG Exe. Secretary, Taichung Leh Cherng Temple==
Supervisors and managing supervisors have been monitoring. Monthly activities on revenue and expenditure, the accounting department is very detail-oriented, they also do audit every month.
Some Buddhism and Taoism groups said, it will be difficult for all to register as foundations. Some religious groups regard restrictions on hosting events as obstructions to religious freedom.
==VOICE: CHEN CHIH-HUN Director, Taiwan Lutheran Church==
You cannot simply just divide this issue into two sides. Would it be better off to have regulations? It depends on how you set articles.
==HSIAO CHING-CHIEH Chairman, Wanhe Temple==
(Government) can just provide guideline for us to follow, do not set regulations into details. Then I would believe such religious organization act would be more acceptable to most organizations.
Many organizations pointed out, religions have differences, as they are not suitable to be regulated under one set of law. The government should regulate religious organizations based on guidelines and retain flexibilities.
TRANSLATED BY: ANTHONY LIN
林健生 賴世杰 台中報導