Buddha Boys

The man in saffron loiters idly beside a Bangkok noodle stand, cradling a bowl stuffed with money. It's a dead giveaway. Real monks don't loiter when they beg. Real monks keep walking. It's part of the patimokkha—the monastic vows. But Thailand is teeming with phony monks. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fraudulent holy men roaming the country's roads and markets, bilking people out of cash, food and other donations. And that's just the beginning of Thailand's rogue monk problem. In recent years, real monks have been caught embezzling, selling and using drugs, seducing parishioners and patronizing prostitutes. A few have...

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