Belgium has recently approved a bill that officially recognizes Buddhism as a non-denominational religion. The bill, drafted by Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, has been

approved by the Federal Cabinet, entitling the Buddhist community to federal funding and financial support from the Belgian government.

The Buddhist Union of Belgium, the representative body of the country's Buddhist community, will act as the official interlocutor for the government. With this recognition, the Buddhist community will be able to professionalize its organizational structure, pay for the wages and pensions of Buddhist consultants, deputy consultants, delegates, and chaplains, and cover the operational costs of the organization's federal secretariat.

In a statement, Van Quickenborne said, "They deserve this recognition that they have been waiting for a long time."

The recognition also entitles the Buddhist community to teach its faith in state schools. However, it has yet to establish an accredited body that can appoint teachers and carry out inspections of their work. Teachers still need to be trained as well.

Buddhism has been present in Belgium since the 1960s, and the number of its followers in the country has grown significantly since then. The Buddhist Union of Belgium, founded in 1997, unites most of the active Buddhist organizations in the country. It is estimated that there are around 150,000 followers of Buddhism in Belgium.

The official recognition of Buddhism in Belgium has been long-awaited by the Buddhist community, and it is expected to have a significant impact on the practice and propagation of the faith in the country. The financial support from the government will help the community to establish a more stable and professional infrastructure for its religious activities, including the teaching of Buddhism in state schools. This recognition is a significant step forward in Belgium's efforts to promote diversity and freedom of religion. Photo by Andrew Lih/en:User:Fuzheado, Wikimedia commons.