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The Revival of Buddhist Nationalism in Thailand and Its Adverse Impact on Religious Freedom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2021

Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang
Chulalongkorn University
E-mail address:


Triggered by the sense of crisis, the Thai state and Thai Buddhism are renewing their traditional relationship kindled by the monarch-led reform over a century ago. Thai Buddhism is reviving its lost aura and hegemony while the political conservatives are looking for legitimacy and collective identity in a time of democratic regression. The result is the rise of the Buddhist-nationalistic movement, Buddhist-as-Thainess notion. The phenomenon has grown more mainstream in recent years. These extreme Buddhists pressure the government to adopt a new constitutional relationship that brings the two entities closer to a full establishment. They also target both religious minorities as well as non-mainstream Buddhists. The revival of Buddhist nationalism foretells rising tension as well as diminishing religious freedom.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press 2021

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