PDC Homepage

Home » Products » Purchase

Journal of Religion and Violence

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2016

Buddhism, Blasphemy, and Violence

Shane Strate
Pages 183-203
DOI: 10.5840/jrv201691528

The Sukhothai Incident
Buddhist Heritage, Mormon Missionaries, and Religious Desecration in Thailand

In 1972, two Mormon missionaries were arrested in Thailand on charges that they had insulted Buddhism. Photographic evidence of their offensive behavior appeared in national newspapers, and for weeks the press debated the meaning and significance of their crime. This article examines the media’s reaction to the “Sukhothai Incident,” and situates the controversy within the larger context of Thai anxieties regarding the influence of ‘Americanization’ on local culture. It argues that Thai elites used the incident to promote pre-existing nationalist narratives that warned against the destructive influences of Western materialism, Christianity, and neo-colonialism. Reaction to the case became a touchstone that separated true defenders of “Thai-ness” from those “outside the religion.” The incident illustrates how ruling factions perceived that the American presence, not just Communism, threatened to undermine traditional symbols of authority.

Not yet a subscriber? Subscribe here
Already a subscriber? Login here

This document may be purchased

Purchase this article for
$25.00 USD
Enter your confirmation number if you've already purchased this article.